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One week later: Rescuers continue search for victims in rubble of Old Montreal fire

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It's been one week since a devastating fire tore through a historic building in Old Montreal, killing at least four.

Rescuers are continuing their search for additional victims on Thursday. Three people are still missing, although officials say it's possible there are more.

Only one victim has been identified so far: 76-year-old Camille Maheux, a photographer whose images have been featured in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and National Gallery of Canada. She lived in the building for roughly 30 years.

Her body was the first to be discovered, pulled from the wreckage on Sunday.

"We will not provide further details on her death, really out of respect for her family and loved ones and to preserve the confidentiality of the police investigation," said police Insp. David Shane at a Thursday morning press briefing.

The other bodies, one found on Tuesday and two on Wednesday, have yet to be identified.

A photo of Camille Maheux, 76, at a memorial at the Place d'Youville building in Old Montreal. Police said Wednesday she is the first victim to be identified from the deadly fire. (CTV News)

The origins of the fire that ravaged the building on Port Street and Place d'Youville, built in 1890, remain unknown. Police say they're gathering evidence while they search for bodies.

On Wednesday, technicians removed much of the building's roof, allowing better access to the floors below. Thursday's action plan includes the addition of a second crane, meant to speed up the dismantling process.

"The plan is to take debris and put it on the second crane," explained fire operations chief Martin Guilbault. 

Rescuers employed the use of a second crane on March 23, 2023 to speed up their search for victims of a fire in Old Montreal. (CTV News/Olivia O'Malley)

Some of the units in the building were illegal Airbnbs, which are outlawed in that part of the city. The fire has raised concerns over unlicensed short-term rentals in Montreal.

In the wake of the tragedy, city administrators vowed to establish a team of investigators tasked with cracking down on illegal Airbnbs by June.

Officials say those missing after the fire are from Quebec, Ontario and the U.S.

Family and friends have identified some of the missing, including friends Saniya Khan and Dania Zafar, both 31, who were in Montreal for a trip.

An Wu, 31, a neuroscientist working in California who was in Montreal for a conference, has also been reported missing by loved ones.

Charlie Lacroix, 18, was also identified as one of the potential victims by her father and had rented an Airbnb with a friend. According to her father, Lacroix told 911 operators she was trapped in a room with no fire escape or windows.

On Thursday morning, David Shane announced that the daily 8 a.m. press briefings would be streamed on the SPVM website so families could follow along. 

The briefings can be accessed here

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