Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:40AM
A fire destroyed a seniors’ residence in L'Isle-Verte, Quebec. (File photo)
A fire destroyed a seniors’ residence in L'Isle-Verte, Quebec. (File photo)

A fire that raged through a nursing home in eastern Quebec in Canada has left five people dead and at least thirty others unaccounted for.

The massive fire in the three-story building in the small Quebec town of L'Isle-Verte broke out around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday night. The blaze destroyed the wood-frame building, leaving only the fireproof elevator shaft standing by morning, with a mound of rubble all around.

According to reports, 23 residents were transported to safety, out of which 13 are injured. Officials say rescuers were unable to carry out a complete evacuation because of the intensity of the fire.

Firemen have confirmed the death of five people so far. Some 30 others are unaccounted for following the incident. Many of those unaccounted for were confined to wheelchairs and walkers.

Two firefighters were also hurt during the rescue operation.

Officials fear that the death toll will rise. Gaetan Lelievre, a provincial minister, told French-language public broadcaster Radio-Canada that, “It’s a tragedy for the community and we can only fear that the death toll will rise.”

The town’s acting mayor, Ginette Caron, told a news conference that most residents of the nursing home are suffering from the late stages of Alzheimers and are completely reliant on caregivers.

The fire, which was reported at midnight, was fanned by winds. An investigation is underway to find its cause.