A fire at a Quebec senior home Thursday left at least three people dead and 30 others missing.
The Globe and Mail said the fire broke out in bitterly cold temperatures
at the 53-unit Residence du Havre, about 150 miles down river from Quebec City.
Authorities have little hope of finding any survivors.
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The Associated Press said the Residence du Havre opened in 1997
and most residents were older than 75, with 37 of them older than 85.
Nearly everyone was trapped once the fire began, as most required wheelchairs or walkers or suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, the Globe and Mail quoted Mayor Ginette Caron as telling reporters.
“The rest were were semi-autonomous, practically no longer autonomous,” Carron said. “Wheelchairs, walkers, people who can’t move around. People with Alzheimer’s, the last stages of life.”
Mario Michaud lives across the street from the home. He told the Globe and Mail that one of his neighbors brought a ladder to the building to rescue his mother from a second-floor balcony, but was driven back by flames and intense heat. “He couldn’t reach her,” Michaud said. “She burned on the balcony. Her boy, he broke down. It wasn’t pretty.”
Media reports say automatic sprinklers were installed in only in a new wing of Residence du Havre built in 2002. The new wing also had a firewall that was able to contain the flames and allow firefighters to save some residents.
“I want to extend my condolences to all the families affected by this terrible fire,” said Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, who was in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Summit. “I have been in touch with my office and we are doing everything we can to support the community and families.”
A cause of the fire has not been determined.
This is the second tragedy to strike Quebec in the past six months. Forty-seven people were killed last summer in Lac-Megantic when a train with 72 oil tankers exploded after derailing.
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