Contractor who built seniors’ home that burned says it didn’t meet standards

The contractor who built the seniors’ residence that burned last January, killing 32 people, says it did not comply with building-code standards in place at the time of the blaze.

RIVIERE-DU-LOUP, Que. — The contractor who built the seniors’ residence that burned last January, killing 32 people, says it did not comply with building-code standards in place at the time of the blaze.

Denis Michaud testified today at the coroner’s inquest looking into the fire in L’Isle-Verte in eastern Quebec.

Michaud says the corridor, a pharmacy and three rooms on the main floor were not equipped with fire-barrier kits.

He said he designed the Residence du Havre to comply with regulations for an apartment building.

Earlier this week, a spokeswoman for the agency that oversees the province’s building standards testified that fire-separation mechanisms should have been present if elderly people without autonomy were living on the main floor.

Three senior citizens deemed non-autonomous were indeed living on that floor.

Many of the occupants in the 52-unit building were over 85 and all but a handful had limited movement, being confined to wheelchairs and walkers.

Coroner Cyrille Delage’s inquest will resume next week after Wednesday’s testimony.

He is expected to hear from more than 50 witnesses at the courthouse in Riviere-du-Loup, northeast of Quebec City.

His job will be to determine the cause of death of each of the 32 victims and the origin and likely causes of the fire.

Delage has said his goal is not to assign criminal blame.

Police last week sent their report to the Crown prosecutors’ office, which will decide whether to lay charges.

Residence co-owners Irene Plante and Roch Bernier are part of a $3.8-million civil 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.

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

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