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LISTEN: Families worry about relatives missing after Quebec seniors' home fire

Investigators sift through icy rubble to try to locate more victims

The aftermath of a Seniors Home fire in Quebec
Photo: Canadian Press

Investigators are back on the job today sifting through icy rubble to try to locate more victims of a fire that destroyed a seniors' residence in Quebec.
Provincial police say three teams are working in rotation because of the freezing temperatures in L'Iles-Verte.

Authorities are using steam to melt the ice and to preserve any bodies that are buried.

Police told a news conference this morning that the official death toll still stands at five and that another 30 people are listed as missing.

The cause of Thursday morning's blaze is unclear and Lt. Guy Lapointe says nothing is being ruled out.

Most of the residents probably never had a chance -- many of them were over 85, had little or no mobility and were confined to wheelchairs or walkers.

A common theme in conversations in the town of 1,500 was the parallel between the fire and the train derailment which devastated Lac-Megantic last summer.

Both tragedies occurred shortly after midnight and left the two communities reeling.

Witnesses told horrific tales on Thursday of seeing people die in the blaze.
Pascal Fillion said he saw an attempt to use a ladder to rescue a man cornered on his third-floor balcony.

The man was screaming and crying out for help before he fell to the ground engulfed by the fire.

Bell Media Radio reporter Angelica Montgomery is in L'Isles-Verte...

A Quebec Health Department document indicates the residence, which has operated since 1997, had only a partial sprinkler system.

The facility expanded around 2002 and the sprinklers in the new part of the building triggered the alarm.

Fire chief Yvan Charron said his colleagues were able to get to the third of the building that remained standing, while the rest was inaccessible.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Pauline Marois were among a raft of politicians to offer their condolences.

(with files from CJAD 800)

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  1. JohnVoter posted on 01/23/2014 12:13 PM
    Sad story in the news today im sure most people originally thought that this was avoided.

    All except our Toronto Firefighters....

    Im sure they are over the moon with a horror story like this are they are now currently fighting Toronto City council for more money and less cuts. Its truly sad that when they are threatened they pitch commercial with The sounds of burning buildings and crying babies all to merely tug on the heart strings of the people of toronto.... disgusting. Yes its sad that events like this happen but they are VERY far and VERY few between.

    They claim they money will lower their response time and put people in danger!! my oh my! the fact of the matter is that Toronto Fire services and others firefighters are the kind of thing (yes along with the over paid police, Paramedics, the lowest paid deserve every penny) are bogging down our city budgets.

    Do you honestly think that you can get paid 90K a year for 49 shifts a year @ 24 hours forever. your Association "cough* union *cough" has been too greedy and over priced your services way beyond their value and now you are left without options but to scare the people you should be protecting. Shame on your Toronto Fire.

    Public servants at high wadges need to become a thing of the past, They cost us money and they show us time and time again that they always want more and more and believe they are more important over Joe office worker.

    People would take this job if it paid 50K... why not change it?
  2. JohnVoter posted on 01/23/2014 12:13 PM
    Sad story in the news today im sure most people originally thought that this was avoided.

    All except our Toronto Firefighters....

    Im sure they are over the moon with a horror story like this are they are now currently fighting Toronto City council for more money and less cuts. Its truly sad that when they are threatened they pitch commercial with The sounds of burning buildings and crying babies all to merely tug on the heart strings of the people of toronto.... disgusting. Yes its sad that events like this happen but they are VERY far and VERY few between.

    They claim they money will lower their response time and put people in danger!! my oh my! the fact of the matter is that Toronto Fire services and others firefighters are the kind of thing (yes along with the over paid police, Paramedics, the lowest paid deserve every penny) are bogging down our city budgets.

    Do you honestly think that you can get paid 90K a year for 49 shifts a year @ 24 hours forever. your Association "cough* union *cough" has been too greedy and over priced your services way beyond their value and now you are left without options but to scare the people you should be protecting. Shame on your Toronto Fire.

    Public servants at high wadges need to become a thing of the past, They cost us money and they show us time and time again that they always want more and more and believe they are more important over Joe office worker.

    People would take this job if it paid 50K... why not change it?
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