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At least 7 people missing after major fire in Old Montreal heritage building

A solemn looking man stands outside holding a cup of coffee in front of the scene of a fire.

At least seven people are considered missing and could still be in the rubble following a major fire that raged through a historic building in Old Montreal on Thursday morning, emergency officials said Saturday.

Speaking at a brief news conference late Saturday night, Montreal fire operations chief Martin Guilbault said crews would begin dismantling parts of the building on Sunday in order for investigators to continue their search and determine a cause for the fire.

Investigators had initially said one person was believed to be missing after the fire. But at an earlier news conference Saturday, Guilbault said information recently confirmed from various sources led them to conclude that more people were trapped inside when the blaze broke out before 6 a.m. Thursday.

One of those people is 18-year-old Charlie Lacroix, according to her grandfather, who spoke to reporters from the scene on Saturday. 

“She was a happy little girl — beautiful and happy,” Robert Lacas said through tears. 

He said all he knows to date about what happened to his granddaughter is what he says a police source told him. 

“[Police] received a first call from my little girl who said ‘come and get us because there are no windows where we are, we can’t get out and the fire is burning,'” Lacas said. 

He said three minutes later, police received another call from Lacroix saying the same thing. “And then the phone cut out,” he said, breaking into tears. 

Robert Lacas, grandfather of Charlie Lacroix. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC )

Lacas is now calling for an investigation into the building’s safety. “It’s not normal that an individual has an apartment where there’s no other access than the door,” he said. “It’s illegal … you have to have two places that you can escape.”

Police have not confirmed Lacas’s account and will not be confirming the names of those that are missing out of respect for their families, a Montreal police spokesperson said. 

Police are urging anyone looking for a missing person who could have been inside the building to contact them at 514 280-2222 or visit a local police station.

Firefighters still unable to enter building

Nine people, three of whom had serious injuries, were transported to the hospital Thursday. As of Saturday, two are still receiving treatment in the burn unit.

Alina Kuzmina and her spouse were sleeping in one of the Airbnb rental units inside the building when they were awoken around 5:30 a.m. by what she describes as the sound of an…

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