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Coroner questions fire safety of seniors’ home

Nov. 18, 2014, Riviere-du-Loup, Que. - An official at the Quebec agency that oversees building codes says she's unsure if a seniors' home where 32 people died last year complied with fire-prevention regulations.

Coroner Cyrille Delage asked Lise Veilleux yesterday whether the building's older section, which was destroyed in last January's blaze, respected provincial regulations.

She was testifying on the first day of Delage's inquest into the tragedy.

Veilleux said that "appeared" to be the case, although the definition of compliance depended on whether residents in that part of the building could get around by themselves.

Many occupants in the 52-unit Residence du Havre in L'Isle-Verte were over 85 and all but a handful had limited movement, being confined to wheelchairs and walkers.

The older part of the building was built in 1997 and did not have an automatic sprinkler system, while the new wing did.

Residence co-owners Roch Bernier and Irene Plante are part of a 3.8-million-dollar 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.

November 18, 2014  By The Canadian Press

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