QUEBEC — 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.
“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.
“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.”
Theriault said Delage’s findings will help guide the government as it moves to limit the risks of such a tragedy ever happening again.
She did not give any timeline for his report to be submitted.
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.
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.
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.
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.