How training and a ‘miracle’ saved 79 seniors in Laval
Published Saturday, February 2, 2013 6:42PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 2, 2013 6:46PM EST
MONTREAL—Those who were there on Friday night say it's nothing short of miraculous.
As flames quickly tore through the Ville Ste-Rose retirement home in Laval, no one was injured as firefighters and staff raced to rush the 79 seniors out of the building.
Despite seniors with limited mobility, or who simply didn’t want to head out into the cold February night, the building was evacuated in seven and a half minutes.
On Saturday morning, nothing was left standing of the retirement home. One the mattresses in the rubble hinted at what had been there, only hours earlier.
“She loved it here,” said Claude Marchand. One of those mattresses belonged to his 95-year-old mother. “It's hard for her, she wants some things. I told her there's nothing left.”
The fire started around 6 p.m. as the residents were finishing dinner. The owner believes it started the ventilation system. With the smell of smoke, staff began rushing people out.
“I was shaking like hell, I couldn't even walk,” said Jacqueline Massy as she contemplated what had happened to her the day before.
“It was incredible, a miracle, a miracle,” said Pierre Godin, who owned the retirement home. “Some had difficulty walking or thinking.”
It may be a miracle, but the miracle had help. For one, they regularly practiced fire drills at the home. They also have employees like Jalila, who finished her shift at the home but rushed back to help save people.
“Some were so confused, they didn't want to go,” she said. “I had to almost drag them.
“I wasn't thinking of myself. I just wanted to help them. I think of these people like my own parents.”
Guy Rivest knows he's lucky to be alive. Although he half-jokingly questions whether he's a good luck charm or not as it was his first day at Villa Ste-Rose.
“I only had one meal at that place and it burnt down,” said Rivest.
For now, he and most of the other residents are staying with family while others have been put up at other senior’s homes in the area. The owner is already talking about rebuilding.