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Quebec truck drivers demand action after fiery Hwy. 440 collision

Click to play video '4 dead in fiery multi-vehicle collision on Highway 440, police investigating' 4 dead in fiery multi-vehicle collision on Highway 440, police investigating
WATCH: Four people have died in a fiery collision on Highway 440 in Laval – Aug 6, 2019

Quebec truck drivers are demanding action after a fiery collision between two trucks and seven other vehicles on Highway 440 West in Laval left four people dead Monday.

“The problem is it’s coming all from four lanes to one lane to an exit to go on a service road and, after, go back to another entry for the 15 North,” longtime truck driver Daniel Beaulieu explained.

“So, everybody is getting to the same place. That’s why there’s a lot of pileups, a lot of backup, and it’s really dangerous and should change. It has to be changed.”

WATCH: More questions than answers following fiery crash in Laval.

Click to play video 'More questions than answers following fiery crash in Laval' More questions than answers following fiery crash in Laval
More questions than answers following fiery crash in Laval – Aug 6, 2019

READ MORE: 4 dead in fiery multi-vehicle collision on Highway 440

Sarah Gendron, who works nearby, says she’ll never forget the horrific scene.

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“We heard a big boom and then I looked up and I saw this big 18-wheeler with a car under, burning,” she told Global News.

“We saw some people jumping over the fence, trying to help the person inside, but the fire came so hard…and I saw the other [truck] with another car under and this car was really burning and then we  started to hear the explosions, one after the other.”

READ MORE: Police investigate after human bones found in Laval

She says she sees so many accidents from her office, which is right in front of the intersection.

“[It was] chaotic, policemen jumping off the fence trying to do their best, but it was really difficult,” Gendron said.

“The police and the ambulance, they tried so hard to get them out, but there were so many fumes, it was really hard.”

Photo of the crash site posted on Facebook by a bystander. Facebook

Beaulieu noted there were public consultations in 2017 to discuss the road conditions in Quebec. He argues the Highway 440-15 North intersection isn’t the only problem area.

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“The 640-15? Same problem,” he said, adding that he is demanding more action from the provincial government.

“I think the government should look at itself. Why there was no action for the last 10 years?” Beaulieu said.

“If we don’t do nothing, there will be a lot of deaths, and that’s exactly what happened yesterday. Now, all those poor families, this morning with their losses. I think it’s horrible.”

On Tuesday, Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel promised “short-term action” as he offered his condolences and applauded first responders who helped at the scene.

He agreed that the intersection was flagged as a place of risk — the scene of a dozen accidents since 2013.

READ MORE: Highway 13 North reopens after tanker truck flips over

One of the changes Bonnardel wants to make is extending a double line to elongate the part of the highway where motorists will be prohibited from changing lanes.

The minister said he hopes to change driver behaviour but will wait for the Sûreté du Québec’s (SQ) investigation to determine what other actions should be taken.

The crash happened at 3:40 p.m. Monday. SQ spokesperson Marie-Pier Lorrain explained a truck hit a car, which quickly led to the nine-vehicle pileup.

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READ MORE: Surreal moment for some Laval residents following highway standoff

The collision killed four people, injured 15 and sent 13 to hospital. Lorrain confirmed three remain in critical condition.

The SQ noted that some of those hospitalized were first responders.

Photo of the crash site posted on L’heure juste du camionneur Facebook page. Courtesy Francis Tremblay/L'heure juste du camionneur
“We have not established identities [of the people who died] because, in some cases, expertise will be required,” said Ann Mathieu, another SQ spokesperson.
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The highway reopened at 5 a.m. Tuesday. Investigators are still working to determine what caused the collision.

READ MORE: Armed man arrested after police operation shuts down Highway 440 in Laval

Beaulieu is demanding that another public consultation take place in order to solve the road issues.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca