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Contractor says seniors’ home not up to code

Nov. 20, 2014, Riviere-du-Loup, Que. - The contractor who built the seniors' residence that burned last January, killing 32 people, says it did not comply with building-code standards in place at the time of the blaze.

November 20, 2014 
By The Canadian Press

Denis Michaud testified Wednesday at the coroner’s inquest looking into the fire in L’Isle-Verte, Que., and said the corridor, a pharmacy and three rooms on the ground floor were not equipped with fire-barrier kits.

He said he designed the Residence du Havre to comply with regulations for an apartment building.

Earlier this week, a spokeswoman for the agency that oversees the province’s building standards testified that fire-separation mechanisms should have been present if elderly people without autonomy were living on the ground floor.

Three senior citizens deemed non-autonomous were indeed living on that floor.


Many of the occupants in the 52-unit building were over 85 and all but a handful had limited movement, being confined to wheelchairs and walkers.

The inquest also heard Wednesday from L’Isle-Verte’s former foreman, who said firefighters had enough water the night of the blaze.

Bernard Tanguay said he quickly got to work in order to ensure an adequate supply. And while the water never ran out, the pressure did drop.

Coroner Cyrille Delage’s inquest will resume next week. He is expected to hear from more than 50 witnesses at the courthouse in Riviere-du-Loup, northeast of Quebec City.

His job will be to determine the cause of death of each of the 32 victims and the origin and likely causes of the fire.

Delage has said his goal is not to assign criminal blame.

Police last week sent their report to the Crown prosecutors’ office, which will decide whether to lay charges.

Residence co-owners Irene Plante and Roch Bernier are part of a $3.8-million civil lawsuit against the town of L’Isle-Verte. The suit alleges the community failed to implement emergency plans which might have lowered the death toll.

An insurance company is also involved in the lawsuit and is seeking $2.3 million of the $3.8 million.

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