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UPDATE: Police: Too soon to say cause of seniors' home fire

Reports blaze was sparked by cigarette

L'Isle-Verte
CTV

A burning cigarette is just one of the possible causes of the deadly blaze in a seniors' home in L'Isle-Verte, Quebec

There were media reports Friday that a smoker at home caused the fire, which killed eight people and has left another 24 presumed dead.

"What's been said is one hypothesis among many,'' Quebec provincial police Lt. Guy Lapointe said Saturday.

"When you conduct an investigation of this magnitude, you have to determine all the facts and not simply just one or two in order to achieve a conclusion." "For us, there are still many hypotheses on the table."

Late Saturday afternoon, police said they had confirmed the deaths of two more people, bringing the death toll to 10. 22 people remain unaccounted for.

But Lapointe isn't holding out much hope for those whose remains have not yet been found.

"I think we can assume the worst," he said. "But we're not going to confirm any deaths until we've actually recovered the remains."

Frigid temperatures continued to complicate the search, with ice in certain places was as thick as 60 cm.

"So you can imagine how difficult it is to go through the ice, melt it, and do it in a way that we preserve the integrity of potential victims," Lapointe said. "So it's very difficult work again today. It's very cold."

To speed up things up, equipment that pushes out very hot air and is normally used to de-ice ships has been brought in.

By Saturday afternoon, the Red Cross had raised $200,000 for the victims of the fire.

A mass is scheduled at the church in L'Isle-Verte Sunday afternoon.

Priest Gilles Frigon described it as an event where residents can gather and share their grief. He has invited loved ones to bring photos of the deceased and the missing.

The mass will be a simple one, with Frigon saying he wants to give first responders the opportunity to express their suffering.

"It will be family-oriented and intimate, so that in this tragic event we're going through, we can find ourselves and rebuild our hearts," Frigon said.

"It will be about the grief of people who are affected by the loss of their father, their mother, their grandfather, their grandmother, their great-grandfather and their great-grandmother."

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has said she will visit L'Isle-Verte on Sunday, but it's unclear whether she will attend the mass.

A more official commemorative ceremony featuring dignitaries has been set for Saturday, February 1st.

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