August 26, 2014 1:41 pm

Quebec calls inquiry into l’Îsle Verte fire that killed 32 people

QUEBEC CITY – The Quebec government has called an inquiry into the fire that killed 32 people at a seniors’ residence last January.

Public Security Minister Lise Theriault said Tuesday it will be up to coroner Cyrille Delage to determine whether part or all of the hearings should be public.

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“The aim of the inquiry is to answer two basic questions: firstly, how did this tragedy happen and, secondly, what do we need to do to prevent anything similar ever happening again,” Theriault said.

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“The coroner’s inquiry will determine the cause of death of each of the 32 victims and the origin and likely causes of the fire.”

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Theriault said Delage’s findings will help guide the government as it moves to limit the risks of such a tragedy ever happening again.

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She did not give any timeline for his report to be submitted.

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The owner of the seniors’ home called for a public inquiry two weeks ago but Theriault said that had nothing to do with her announcement.

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Roch Bernier said people have a right to know the real story behind the Jan. 23 blaze at the Residence du Havre in L’Isle-Verte, in eastern Quebec.

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Bernier is part of a $3.8-million lawsuit against the town of L’Isle-Verte. The suit alleges the community failed to implement emergency plans which might have lowered the death toll.

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An insurance company is also involved in the lawsuit and is seeking $2.3 million of the $3.8 million.

Investigations into the tragedy are already being carried out by Quebec provincial police and the fire commissioner.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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