CANADA - Tags: DISASTER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A firefighter looks on at the seniors residence Residence du Havre after a fire in L'Isle Verte, Quebec, January 23, 2014. Police will spend Thursday night sifting through the frozen ruins of a wooden, three-story residence for the elderly that burned down in the Eastern Canadian province of Quebec, killing at least three people and leaving 30 more missing. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger (CANADA - Tags: DISASTER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX17RV3 Reuters
The owners of the L'Isle Verte, Que., seniors' residence that burned down early Thursday morning said they may not rebuild in the aftermath of the tragedy that killed at least five people and caused the disappearance of at least 30 more.
Résidence du Havre owners Roch Bernier and Irene Plante issued a statement late Friday afternoon extending their sincere condolences to the victims' families.
They have owned the residence since 1999.
"Although they loved their job, their residents and their employees, Mr. Bernier and Ms. Plante would like to mention that it is still too early to say if they have or not to rebuild the residence Le Havre," the release said.
They said they wanted to focus their energies on relocating and assuring the well-being of the displaced residents for the time being.
Residence respected security regulations
The seniors' residence that burned down in L'Isle-Verte was in line with security regulations, Quebec's minister for social services says as the search for 30 missing in the fatal fire continues.
"We don't know what happened," VéroniqueHivon told reporters on Friday morning.
Five people have been confirmed dead and 30 are missing after Thursday's fire, which ravaged the seniors' home in the rural Quebec town, about 28 kilometres northeast of Rivière-du-Loup.
Hivon said the most recent safety drill at the residence was carried out in under eight minutes.
The older part of the Résidence du Havre was built in 1997, and had no sprinkler system, although a newer wing built in 2002 was equipped with sprinklers.
Hivon said the government must do "everything possible to make sure that ... such tragedies don't happen again."
Meanwhile, police are not speculating on what may have caused the fire.
Quebec provincial police Lt. Guy Lapointe said investigators have not ruled out anything yet.
'We will not give up'
As the search for the missing continues, Lapointe said many members of the emergency crews are suffering from loss as well.
"We will not give up," he said.
He said police officers and firefighters worked overnight to bring the fire under control.
Workers are dealing with extreme cold and a thick coating of ice over the rubble. Lapointe said as crews search through the building's remains, they are using steam to melt the ice.
He said the steam will help ensure the scene isn't damaged.
The tragedy has been designated as a Fourth Level response, meaning that local officials, the Quebec coroners’ office and the Quebec forensic laboratory are involved in the operation.
Police are reminding members of the public to stay outside marked-off perimeters. There is a red zone set up around the remaining rubble, and police are asking the public not to go inside that zone.
A total of 52 people were listed as living in the building, but provincial police are still trying to pin down how many of them were inside at the time of the fire.
As the close-knit town of 1,500 people wait for news of their loved ones, a memorial service has been planned for Sunday.
The mass will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Church of St-Jean-Baptiste-de-l'Isle-Verte.
Priest Gilles Frigon said the service will be open to everyone.
Several guests have been invited to come and speak, including a representative for the firefighters and MNA Jean D'Amour.
Red Cross asks for donations
The Red Cross launched a collection for donations, asking the public to give to those affected by the tragedy.
The fund will be used to help victims' families and evacuees pay for essential needs.
According to the Red Cross, there is a need for at least $50,000 in donations.
Volunteers with the Red Cross have been on the scene since 3 a.m. Thursday, meeting with survivors.
Financial donations are expected to cover the cost of housing, clothing and food, but the Red Cross says there is also a need for dentures, hearing aids, mobility aids and glasses.
To make a donation, click here.