Montreal police formally confirmed on Tuesday the identity of the sixth and seventh victims of the fire that occurred in a building in Place D’Youville on March 16. They are Charlie Lacroix and Walid Belkahla, both 18 years old. The investigation will now focus on the causes behind this tragic event.
These last two identities have indeed been confirmed in the last hours by the Laboratory of Forensic Sciences and Forensic Medicine (LSJML). Charlie Lacroix had rented an apartment for an evening on a short-term rental site at the time of the fire, according to what his father, Louis-Philippe Lacroix, said shortly after the events.
“Come get us, we can’t get out,” her daughter reportedly said during a 911 call, mentioning that she and Walid Belkahla, with whom she was likely inside according to our sources, could not get out of the room. apartment, the latter having no window.
In a press briefing, the division chief of the Montreal Fire Department (SIM), Martin Guilbault, indicated that no other victims were in the rubble of the building. Everything was confirmed Monday “at the end of the day with the help of dog handlers”, he assured.
Authorities also revealed on Tuesday that 22 people were in the building when the fire broke out. Of these, six escaped unharmed, nine were injured and taken to hospital, and seven died. One of these people jumped out of a window to get out of the building.
In total, SIM firefighters carried out six rescues, including four by portable ladder and two by aerial ladder. David Shane, SPVM inspector and spokesperson for the Montreal police force, confirmed that Tuesday’s press briefing will be the last. “The investigation will continue,” he promised, however, reiterating his deepest condolences to the families bereaved by the fire.
For the moment, the Montreal police refuse to advance on the causes behind the event. “All hypotheses are analyzed, but for reasons of confidentiality, we cannot share more information with you”, justified Mr. Shane, in front of the representatives of the media.
Mr. Guilbault also refused to go further, but spoke of a “long-term job” in sight that will require “a lot of parsimony”. Recalling the arrival of the first firefighters on the scene on March 16, the division chief nevertheless spoke of a “chaotic scene, with people at the windows”. “It was very moving for our units,” he said, recalling that a fire causing so many deaths had not taken place in the metropolis for decades.
Recall that two other bodies, the sixth and seventh, had been extricated at the beginning of the week, Monday, from the rubble of the burned building. On the same day, police and firefighters responsible for the search had also confirmed the identities of four of the victims whose remains were discovered in the ruins in the past few days.
The four victims identified on Monday are An Wu, 31, Dania Zafar, 31, Saniya Khan, 31, and Nathan Sears, 35. A first victim, Camille Maheux, 76, was identified last week. According to our information, Ms. Maheux, a professional photographer, was the only victim who had been a permanent resident of the building for more than 30 years.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante again offered her “deepest condolences” on Tuesday to the families and loved ones of the seven victims whose identity has now been confirmed. “Montreal is with you in this ordeal. I also thank the SPVM and [Fire Safety Department] teams for their work,” she tweeted.