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Old 25-01-14, 16:35   #1
 
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Canada Flag Rescuers Search for Victims of Canadian Senior Home Fire By Melting Ice

Saturday, Jan 25 2014

More than 30 feared dead after horror nursing home fire at Canadian nursing home that has left police melting icy rubble to search for bodies. The death toll stands at five, but dozens more are unaccounted for.

Canada's Prime Minister warned it is likely to rise significantly as firefighters searched through the wreckage for more bodies
Rescue workers are using steam to melt the ice encasing the charred rubble, it is a foot thick in some places.

The fire broke out early Thursday morning and tore through the seniors' home, trapping residents dependent on wheelchairs and walkers.

Firefighters saw and heard people in the building that they were unable to save
A neighbor said he watched a woman burn to death as her son tried to frantically save her life.

Another witness reported seeing a woman's balcony collapse back into the building, throwing another resident into the raging fire.

Most of the dozens missing have limited mobility and the building was only partially equipped with sprinklers.

Temperatures hovered around minus five degrees Fahrenheit, wind chills plunged to minus 20.

Rescuers were able to save 20 people.

Firefighters worked through the night until early Friday morning to put out the remaining hot spots before moving to melt the ice, which is up to a foot thick in some places, according to the Toronto Star.

'The steam allows us to melt the ice and proceed forward,' Quebec Provincial Police Lt. Guy LaPointe told NBC News. 'And, most importantly, preserve the integrity of individual victims.'

Three teams including forensic technicians and other coroner's office staff are working in shifts due to the bitter cold he continued.

The harsh weather froze the water used to fight the blaze into an icy mold encasing everything it touched, making the recovery effort and subsequent investigation even more difficult.

'The cold is extreme, the equipment could freeze,' Mr LaPointe lamented. 'We could run into other issues.'

Firefighters' hoses often froze while fighting the fire, according to reports.

No cause has yet been determined for the fire, and officials have not been able to confirm if all residents were home when it broke out.

This has also hampered efforts to nail down both an exact death toll and the number of people unaccounted for, said Mr Lapointe.

When asked if he believes further bodies remain trapped in the ice, he said 'nothing has been ruled out.'

The steam is being used and rescuers are moving slowly because of how badly damaged the building is, he explained to the Montreal Gazette.

'You have to understand that because the building has collapsed, all the water has frozen,' said LaPointe. 'You want to do it very... respectfully for the potential victims.'

He would not commit to a timeline for completing a recovery operation and determining the cause of the blaze.

'It is so cold people can't search for one or two hours,' Jean Bélanger, head of civil security for the region, told the Gazette. 'They will maybe work for half an hour and then will be relieved so they can rest.'

Temperatures are expected to rise into the mid-20s on Saturday, which should greatly aid in the grim search.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement shortly after the tragedy expressing grief over the deaths.

'On behalf of the entire country, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who passed away following the fire at a seniors' residence in eastern Quebec,' he said.

'My thoughts and prayers are also with those who remain unaccounted for and all those who have been injured.'

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois offered her condolences from Davos, Switzerland.

'I want to extend my condolences to all the families affected by this terrible fire,' she said. 'I have been in touch with my office and we are doing everything we can to support the community and families.

'It's a private center but we're talking about human beings, so we'll do whatever we can. I am deeply saddened by this event.'

The fire comes just six months after 47 people were killed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a train with 72 oil tankers derailed and exploded in the small community.






Melting the ice: Rescue personnel are enveloped in the steam being used to melt the ice hampering their progress at the scene of the horrific Thursday morning nursing home fire in rural Quebec


Arctic: The fire is finally out, but ice up to a foot thick is making finding more victims increasingly difficult


Trapped: The fire trapped terrified residents, most of them dependent on wheelchairs and walkers


Safety first: A firefighter checks for gas leak as rescue personnel search for more victims


Massive tragedy: An emergency worker walks past a sign that reads 'Look out for our residents' as they search through the icy rubble



No escape: Many of the more than 30 residents missing or unaccounted for were infirm and unable to move without a wheelchair or walker, a local official said
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Old 25-01-14, 21:24   #2
 
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Default Re: Rescuers Search for Victims of Canadian Senior Home Fire By Melting Ice

So very sad, how terrifying for those victims.

Thanks for the report FreaknDavid
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