Quebec provincial police confirm that at least three people are dead and 30 others are unaccounted for, after a fire destroyed a seniors residence that housed many residents with limited mobility in the town of L'Isle-Verte.
The town's acting mayor Ginette Caron said only five residents who lived at the Residence du Havre were fully autonomous.
She told reporters Thursday morning that most of the residents could not get around on their own and some of them had Alzheimer's disease.
Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau said police received a call about the fire at around 12:35 a.m. ET. The fire was brought under control at around 5 a.m. ET and is almost out, she told CTV’s Canada AM.
At least three people were injured in the blaze and police have ordered a no-fly zone over the scene of the fire.
Bilodeau said about 20 residents were taken away from the residence in L'Isle-Verte, located about 230 kilometres northeast of Quebec City and 30 kilometres east of Riviere-du-Loup. The residents were taken to a local school and at the injured were taken to nearby hospitals, she said.
Firefighters, paramedics and police from neighbouring communities were called to the scene to help, she said. The Red Cross is also at the scene.
The MP who represents the area, Francois Lapointe, told CTV News Channel that police are hoping some of the residents who are unaccounted for may have spent the night with family members, or are away on vacation.
Police are asking for family members who know of a resident's whereabouts to contact them at 1-800-659-4264.
Lapointe said there are accounts of family members trying to reach loved ones who were trapped inside the home.
"There's a lot of people missing in a small town… too much," he said.
Luc-Andre Nadeau, a reporter with NRJ 98.7 Est du Quebec, said that about 50 people lived in the residence, which was located in the "heart" of the town.
Built in 1997, the residence also contained a social agency, pharmacy and a hair salon.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said his thoughts were with the families affected by the blaze.
"What tragic news coming from L'Isle-Verte this morning," he said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the many families affected and we hope that the situation will be under control as quickly as possible."