April 17, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

Complete Canadian News World

6 members of a family die in fire in Lanaudiere: A smoke alarm “saves lives”

6 members of a family die in fire in Lanaudiere: A smoke alarm “saves lives”

The grandfather of a family devastated by a fire that killed six people in Lanaudiere is calling on Quebecers to equip themselves with smoke alarms after an autopsy report revealed there was no detection system during the drama.

• Read more: A family of six perished: identification of the bodies is yet to be completed

• Read more: Six bodies were recovered from a fire-ravaged apartment in Lanaudiere

“They don't sell this for fun. It saves lives,” says Pierre Guillemette at the end of the line.

In February 2023, when his 27-year-old son Alex Guillemette and his partner Catherine Bouchard-Paulin, 28, died in the flames in Saint-Jacques, everything points to the fact that there were no smoke alarms or they did not work.

Alex Guillemette and Catherine Bouchard-Paulin

Photo taken from Catherine Bouchard-Paulin's Facebook page

Like M's other children, their 2-month-old Ollie died.me Bouchard-Paulin: Maïté-Héra, Jake and Alyanna, ages 3 to 8 years.

Saint-Julien fire photo family home

The youngest victim, Ollie Guillemette

Photo courtesy of dignitymemorial.com

Saint-Julien fire photo family home

Of the four children of the deceased Catherine Bouchard-Pauline, we include Mayte-Hera (centre), Jake (right) and Aliana (left), aged three to eight.

Screenshot of the GoFundMe website


The fire spread like lightning in the apartment. A year later, the exact source of the fire remains unknown.

“It's always been a mystery in my head,” argues Pierre Guillemette.

Nevertheless, few details about the circumstances of the tragedy emerged in the report of coroner Alain Manzo.

For example, in camera shots, moving smoke is seen in the kitchen. The screams of an adult and a child echo.

But above all, no emergency warning was heard.

“We did not find any garbage. [d’avertisseur] Smoke in the ruins,” confirms M in an interviewe Monzo.

“number of seconds”

“It could happen to anyone,” warns the coroner.

Statistics abound in this direction.

More than 30% of residential buildings burned annually have little or no detection system in good working order. Quebec Ministry of Public Security.

Smoke alarms at three points

  • It is recommended to have one on each floor, including the basement.
  • Batteries should be replaced when intermittent beeping is heard and when moving.
  • They must be replaced every 10 years from the date of manufacture.
  • Source: Government of Quebec | For more information: Smoke alarms | Government of Quebec (quebec.ca)

Francis Fleury, director of research and development for the Association of Fire Prevention Technicians of Quebec, says:

“Within three minutes, the house was filled with smoke. These are the three critical minutes to get out of your house or apartment,” he insists.

It is also recommended that citizens prepare an immediate evacuation plan in case of a possible fire.

Turn the page

In the case of the family of Alex Guillemette and Catherine Bouchard-Paulin, a smoke alarm could have changed things, Coroner Manseau says.

“The chances of survival increase,” he says.

A preventative visit in the summer of 2022 determined the residence was compliant Newspaper François Thivierge, director of the fire protection service of the MRC of Montcalm.

Note, however, that work was underway on the family home at the time of the tragedy.

Pierre Guillemette never knew if a warning would have changed the outcome of the ultimately tragic event. He says he still managed to grieve.

“You must turn the page,” mr. Guillemette insists. These are the trials of life [qu’il faut surmonter].”

He consoles himself with the thought that if his son had survived, he would have suffered severe physical and psychological consequences.

Do you have any information to share with us about this story?

Write to us or call us directly 1 800-63SCOOP.