One dead, six remain missing as police search for victims of fire in Old Montreal
One person has been confirmed dead and six people remain missing as police continue to search for victims after a fire swept through a building in Old Montreal on Thursday.
In a news conference Sunday evening, fire and police officials confirmed that the body was recovered at 6:45 p.m., and has been taken to a forensic lab to be identified.
"We are sensitive to what the families of the missing (people) are going through," said Montreal fire operations chief Martin Guilbault.
"Our goal is, for the investigation, to share light … on this tragedy and provide answers for the families."
Guilbault said fire services began preparations to dismantle the second and third floors of the building in order to gain access to the fire scene.
Montreal police spokesman Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant had said earlier Sunday that seven people were still believed to be missing after the fire.
The father of a young woman who remains missing after the fire swept through the building in Montreal's historic district said he wants the city to ensure all rental units have proper fire escapes.
Charlie Lacroix, 18, lived in the Montreal suburb of Terrebonne, Que., and was staying in an Airbnb in the building with a friend after spending the day in the city.
Her father, Louis-Philippe Lacroix, said he's been told his daughter called 911 twice within several minutes, unable to get out of the unit they were staying in, which had no window and no fire escape.
"How can someone rent an apartment, whether it's for a day, or a year, or whatever with no way to exit?" he said in an interview earlier Sunday.
Charlie Lacroix, 18, died after the major fire in Old Montreal. SOURCE: Louis-Philippe Lacroix.
Lacroix said he's hopeful the fire will lead to action from the city to ensure Airbnbs and apartments have proper fire exits.
"This happened, there's nothing we can do, now do everything you freaking can to avoid another story like that," he said.
Lacroix said he has no words to describe how he's feeling other than "sad." He said his daughter was someone who "had everything in front of her."
Earlier on Sunday, investigators surveyed the scene and took photos from a cherry picker crane before the rest of the building started to be dismantled.
The fire department has said the building will be taken apart "brick by brick" to ensure the scene is safe for investigators.
Investigators survey the scene following a fire in Old Montreal, Sunday, March 19, 2023, that gutted a heritage building. Several people are still unaccounted for. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Alina Kuzmina, who was staying in the building with her husband after attending a concert in Montreal, said she feels lucky to be alive.
Kuzmina, who lives in Cornwall, Ont., said her husband was awakened Thursday shortly after 5:30 a.m. by a loud noise and noticed the glow of flames under the door.
The couple quickly gathered a few items — leaving most of the possessions behind — and escaped from the semi-basement unit they were staying in by breaking a window, she said in an interview Sunday.
As she left the building, she said she saw a man jumping out a window.
"There was no way out," she said. "The staircase was on fire."
While Kuzmina said she'd noticed two fire alarms in the unit when they arrived, she had never thought to question whether they were working. She said she noticed they hadn't gone off once she was outside.
"I remember thinking, 'Where are the fire alarms? Why am I not hearing anything? I saw two of them in the unit, why did none of them go off?'" she said.
While the couple was able to escape with a few scrapes, Kuzmina said it would likely have been worse if they were staying on a higher floor.
A makeshift memorial is shown at the scene following a fire in Old Montreal, Sunday, March 19, 2023, that gutted a heritage building. Several people are still unaccounted for. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
City Commander Steve Belzil, the head of the arson squad that has taken over the investigation, said on Saturday that police haven't ruled out the possibility that more victims would be found in the ruins.
He told reporters that police don't know how many of the missing were tourists staying in short-term rentals and how many lived in the building permanently.
Nine people were injured in the fire. As of Sunday afternoon, two remained in the serious burn unit of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, both in stable condition.
Firefighters originally believed that only one person was missing, but later learned that several apartments in the building were being used as Airbnb rentals.
City officials said Airbnb-style short-term rentals are illegal in the area where the building is located.
Alexandre Bergevin, a lawyer for the building's owner, Emile-Haim Benamor, said Sunday that Airbnbs in the building were not being operated by his client, but rather by tenants, adding that steps had been taken to stop the practice.
He said in a text message that the alarm system had been replaced in 2019 and was regularly tested.
The building's layout is complex, he wrote regarding the emergency exits. "It has always been deemed compliant in the past."
A building is doused with water following a fire in Old Montreal, Thursday, March 16, 2023. Residents have been evacuated and multiple people have been treated for injuries. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Ben Breit, the global head of trust and safety communications at Airbnb, said in a statement that the company is providing support to those affected and assisting the police investigation.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this tragedy, and to their families and loved ones," he said in an email.
The company did not respond to questions about whether the fire will lead to policy changes or efforts to limit use of the platform by hosts operating illegally.
-This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2023.
Montreal Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Hundreds of American firefighters arrive in Canada to help battle wildfires
Hundreds of American firefighters have recently arrived in Canada to help battle wildfires and more are on the way, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.
Can face masks help protect you from wildfire smoke? Health expert explains
An official recommendation to wear a mask to protect yourself from wildfire smoke is being echoed by health experts as plumes of smoke make their way across parts of Canada, causing poor air quality.
Here's how major cities in Canada and the U.S. look blanketed by wildfire smoke
Photos show smoke-filled skies in cities across Canada and the U.S. as air quality warnings were issued in wake of the hundreds of wildfires from Quebec and Ontario.
'Very, very hard to breathe': Experts call wildfires a 'major public health concern' for Canada
As forest fires rage across the country, experts are sounding the alarm over the physical and psychological impacts of the wildfires and saying that they pose a serious public health issue, which individuals and governments need to acknowledge and act upon.
WATCH | Rate hike 'may be the last straw' for some homeowners: mortgage broker
With the latest hike bringing Canada's key interest rates to levels not seen since 2001, one mortgage broker is warning that it may be 'the last straw' for some homeowners with variable mortgages.
Canadians more likely to support foreign interference inquiry than hearings: Nanos
Canadians are twice as likely to support a formal inquiry into foreign interference, as opposed to public hearings, according to new polling from Nanos Research for CTV News.
opinion | Eight takeaways from Prince Harry's seven hours on the witness stand
It's been a busy, tumultuous few days for Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex as he took his place on the witness stand in his trial against the Mirror Group Newspapers. Here are royal commentator Afua Hagan's top takeaways from his two-day grilling.
Calgary mass killer Matthew de Grood seeks 'absolute discharge'
The man who was found not criminally responsible in the stabbing deaths of five people at a house party in Brentwood more than nine years ago is seeking more freedoms.
Trudeau shows no interest in compromising with Meta, Google over online news bill
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing no interest in compromising with Meta and Google over a Liberal bill that would make them pay for Canadian journalism that helps the companies generate revenue.
consumer, | Toronto woman 'horrified' after losing $95,000 to romance scam
Romance scams have always been around, but they got worse during the pandemic, and fraudsters continue to use social media and dating sites to find victims.
Number of Ontario forest fires doubled compared to same time last year
Ontario has already experienced double the number of forest fires this year compared to the same six months in 2022.
Alleged Toronto anti-cyclist road rage incident caught on camera
Toronto police are investigating an incident of alleged road rage against a cyclist that was caught on camera.
'This is not helping': Frustrated evacuees say official communication lacking in wildfire recovery
Frustration is building among some people from neighbourhoods hardest-hit by the fires near Halifax. CTV's Heidi Petracek reports.
A 'whole list of hazards' are keeping residents near N.S. fire zones under evacuation: officials
It is still not safe for some evacuated residents whose houses were spared from wildfire damage to return home, officials from Halifax Regional Municipality and the District of Shelburne said.
Halifax support workers strike impacting students and families
The father of disabled teen from Fall River, N.S. is calling on all sides to get back to the bargaining table and put an end to the Halifax area CUPE educational support worker strike.
VIDEO | 'Hate and discrimination have no place in any TVDSB schools': Investigation underway after pride flag torn down
Students at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School in London, Ont. are being investigated after a video was posted online showing students tearing down a LGBTQ2S+ pride flag.
Special air quality statement remains in effect, rain possible over the weekend
As wildfire smoke blankets Ontario and eastern U.S., causing hazardous air quality and hazy skies, smoke in the Forest City is expected to remain until at least Thursday night.
City pitches new parking garage and extended free parking to aid downtown London, Ont.’s recovery
Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Honk Mobile Parking App has offered two hours of free municipal parking in London’s core area business districts.
Wildfire west of Sudbury prompts evacuation order, total active fires in northern Ont. grows to 54
A northern Ontario forest fire that started west of Sudbury on Sunday morning has grown to more than 1,000 hectares and has prompted officials to issue an evacuation order for the immediate area as the number of active fires in the region grows.
Spreading wildfires prompt northeastern communities to evacuate
Communities affected by wildfires in the region are evacuating for safety reasons. The province says there is significant danger as several out-of-control wildfires affect air quality and physical safety.
‘Incompetent’ northern Ont. doctor loses his license to practise medicine
A northern Ontario doctor has been stripped of his medical licence for conduct described as “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional.”
Council reconsiders decision to reject recommendations on affordability crisis
Calgary city council has reconsidered its decision to vote against recommendations made by an expert panel to address the city’s housing affordability crisis.
Man on mobility scooter hit by truck in northeast Calgary intersection
Police say a man on a mobility scooter has life-altering injuries after he was struck by a vehicle in a northeast Calgary intersection on Wednesday evening.
Hot, dry weather comes with cautions and a few benefits
Calgary was under a heat warning Wednesday with forecast high of 29C.
Poor air quality in Waterloo region and Guelph will continue into the weekend: Environment Canada
There's high levels of air pollution in Waterloo region and Wellington County as smoke plumes from wildfires burning in Quebec and northeastern Ontario continue to blow into the region, Environment Canada says.
Six Region of Waterloo councillors announce support for amalgamation
One unified city – that’s what six Region of Waterloo councillors say they want when it comes to the future of the region’s municipal governance.
Habitat for Humanity nears completion of new affordable housing units
The work never stops at Habitat for Humanity when it comes to building affordable homes for families in Waterloo region.
Out-of-control wildfire on Lower Mainland sees massive growth
A human-caused wildfire on the Lower Mainland has grown to an estimated 800 hectares and continues to burn out of control Wednesday, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
'You don't listen to renters': Vancouver Tenants Union disrupts housing announcement
Rental housing advocates interrupted an announcement by B.C.'s housing minister in Vancouver Wednesday morning to object to the provincial government's response to the affordability crisis.
Vancouver voice actors concerned about AI cloning voices without consent
Advances in artificial intelligence means software can generate accurate voice clones that sound just like the real thing, but that's putting some actors in a precarious position, including Vancouver's Bill Newton.
Albertans asked to conserve electricity Wednesday evening due to hot temperatures
Hot temperatures across Alberta prompted a grid alert Wednesday afternoon.
'A long time coming': Edmonton Catholics commit $3.2M to Indigenous reconciliation fund
The Archdiocese of Edmonton will spend $3.2 million on reconciliation initiatives with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in the Alberta capital region.
'Major travel delays': Anthony Henday Drive bridge will be closed this weekend
Drivers are being asked to find another way or prepare for delays on the Henday this weekend, because crews need to close a bridge over the North Saskatchewan River.
VIDEO | Weapon and drug charges laid after Lakeshore ‘road rage’ incident
A “road rage” incident has led to multiple charges for two Windsor residents after allegedly wielding a replica firearm at another driver.
'I just feel so empty': Mother opens up after teenaged daughter’s body recovered by police
The body of a woman reported missing in January has been found by Windsor police and her mother is struggling with the confirmation that her daughter is gone.
Alleged murder of Windsor woman marks region's 4th case of femicide in last two years, says advocacy group
In the wake of a first-degree murder charge being filed against a Michigan man for killing his estranged wife, a 36-year-old Windsor woman, the head of an emergency shelter for women and children says femicide is a growing problem in Windsor-Essex.
Future uncertain for residents of bulldozed Regina homeless camp
The dwellings of around a dozen Regina residents experiencing homelessness were bulldozed after calls from the property owner.
Less than 50% of Indigenous students graduate from provincial schools, report says
Indigenous graduation rates are sliding in the province, according to Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor.
Regina city council asks for debt limit increase
Regina city council has asked its administration to pursue permission from the Saskatchewan Municipal Board (SMB) to increase its debt limit to $780 million.
Special Air Quality Statement
Special Air Quality Statement | Wildfire smoke blankets Ottawa for a third day
Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for Ottawa, with the air quality at 10+ "very high risk" Wednesday morning. Conditions improved in the afternoon.
Plug-in air purifier blamed for row house fire in Craig Henry area
The Ottawa Fire Service says a plug-in air purifier is to blame for a fire on Craig Henry Drive Tuesday.
Centennial Lake fire being held; evacuation order in place until Friday
The wildfire at Centennial Lake, 150 km west of Ottawa, is being held by firefighters, but an evacuation order remains in effect until Friday.
Saskatoon property taxes could see 13 per cent hike as city confronts $75M revenue gap
Significant property tax hikes may be needed to cover a funding shortfall, according to City of Saskatoon administration.
Saskatoon builder looking to flip abandoned homes to first time buyers
A Saskatoon man wants to play matchmaker for the unloved homes in the city.
Latest season of survivalist series 'Alone' filmed in Sask., set to premiere June 8
The rugged wilderness of northern Saskatchewan was host to survivalists from all walks of life, vying to win the top prize of the popular series 'Alone.'