Prisoners of flames: “Come get us, we can't get out!” »
Many people came to pray at the scene of the tragedy on Saturday.
Still in shock, relatives of those who disappeared during the fire that ravaged a heritage building in Old Montreal gathered at the scene of the tragedy on Saturday. Some testimonies raise questions about the compliance of the building and reveal the horror experienced by the victims of the blaze.
Robert Lacas was one of the relatives, friends and neighbors who came to pray in front of 224, place d'Youville.
There is no news of his granddaughter, Charlie Lacroix , who was inside the building at the time of the fire. The 18-year-old and her boyfriend are among six missing persons that the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) suspects are dead.
All I know is that she called 911. The police traced her cell phone and it gave the address here […]. They got a call from my granddaughter saying, “Come get us, because there are no windows where we are!” We can't get out and the fire is on!", said Mr. Lacas in an interview with Radio-Canada.
They got a second call, three minutes later, which said the same thing, from her boyfriend: “Come get us, we can't go out!” Then the phone cut off. Probably she died at that time or not far from it, confided the grandfather, his voice breaking with sadness.
It's not normal that an individual rents apartments where there is no access other than the door. It's illegal […] The owner who rents it, he is not correct, said Mr. Lacas.
A friend of Charlie's, Kelly Ann, was her so inconsolable. It is truly a tragedy […]. She had no way out.
More than a hundred firefighters were mobilized to put out the fire.
The building included an architect's office on the ground floor and around fifteen apartments on the second and third floors.
The SPVM confirmed that accommodations were rented there on a short-term basis on Airbnb. The owner of the building did not hold a license to operate tourist residences. However, we cannot confirm who, the owner or the tenant, has put these apartments up for rent on the accommodation platform.
The head of public security at the City of Montreal, Alain Vaillancourt, has also confirmed that Airbnb-type rentals are prohibited in this sector of Old Montreal.
Here, in Ville-Marie, there is a small sector that allows [rentals on Airbnb], but in the construction sector, it is not allowed. The borough of Ville-Marie has never received an Airbnb type occupancy request for this building and we have never received an official complaint either for the building to tell us that there were Airbnbs illegal, said Mr. Vaillancourt.
Passing through the Quebec metropolis, Alina Kuzmina and her spouse managed to narrowly escape the flames.
There was no fire alarm, no sound, no word. We were awakened by smoke and the sound of fire. My husband grabbed a boot, smashed the window, and that's how we managed to get out, said the Ontarian.
The three-storey heritage building located at the corner of rue du Port and place d'Youville was heavily damaged by the flames.
Another woman on site, Marik Boudreau , observed the devastated building, whose roof and certain floors collapsed. With a heavy heart, she thought of her friend Camille Maheux.
“She was a documentary photographer. She lived here, in a large loft, with her archives, explained Ms. Boudreau. As time passed, we realized that she was nowhere. We searched for it a lot. We are still looking for it.
It is still impossible for firefighters and SPVM agents to enter the building to carry out security searches, explained Martin Guilbault, of the Security Service Montreal fire (SIM). The search will begin as soon as the premises are secure.
With information from Élyse Allard, Marie Isabelle Rochon and Fanny Samson