Fire raged through a seniors’ residence in eastern Quebec on Thursday morning, killing three people and leaving about 30 unaccounted for.
The massive fire in the 52-unit complex broke out around 12:30 a.m. ET in L’Isle-Verte, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) northeast of Quebec City.
Initial reports said 20 residents had been transported to safety, but it was unclear just how many residents were missing in the inferno. Quebec Provincial Police Sgt. Ann Mathieu said Thursday authorities were trying to determine the exact number of victims and learn the cause of the blaze.
Mario Michaud, who lives across the street from the building, said he witnessed the unfolding drama shortly after midnight.
“I got up to go to the toilet and I saw smoke,” Michaud told local newspaper Info Dimanche.
“The fire had started on the second floor. I woke up my girlfriend and called 911. I saw the firefighters and they got to work. A woman on the second floor was shouting and she went out on to the balcony. Her son went to get a ladder but he couldn’t get to her. She burned to death.”
Local chief firefighter Yvon Charron called it `” night from hell.”
The building was home to more than 50 people and also housed a social agency, a pharmacy and a hair salon.
Several fire departments in the region were called in to help extinguish the blaze, which completely destroyed the building.
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