Fire destroys CEGEP student residence building in Gaspé

A fire in a student residence building at the CEGEP de la Gaspésie et des Îles's Gaspé campus was still burning Wednesday afternoon, hours after it began — forcing the evacuation of 280 students and shutting down the entire campus.

280 students evacuated from building in early morning fire, all exams cancelled on CEGEP's Gaspé campus

Firefighters work to control a major fire that began around 6:30 a.m. in the student residence on the Gaspé campus of Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles-de-la-Madeleine. (Bruno Lelièvre/Radio-Canada)

A fire in a student residence building at the CEGEP de la Gaspésie et des Îles's Gaspé campus was still burning Wednesday afternoon, hours after it began — forcing the evacuation of 280 students and shutting down the entire campus.

Firefighters were called to the C.A. Pouliot building at 6:30 a.m. The building is physically attached to the school itself.

Smoke billows from the C.A. Pouliot building, a student residence on the Gaspé campus of the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles-de-la-Madeleine. By early afternoon, firefighters were still trying to put out the fire. (William Bastille-Denis\Radio-Canada)

"The fire is not finished, so we don't know the cause," said a spokesperson for provincial police, Sgt. Claude Doiron.

"The building will probably be a total loss."

The fire broke out at 6:30 a.m., forcing 280 students to flee the building. (William Bastille-Denis\Radio-Canada)

Doiron said the evacuation went smoothly, with no students injured and no indication anyone was left inside, although police can not be sure until firefighters are able to go through the building.

One firefighter has been treated for smoke inhalation.

Scheduled exams cancelled

"At first we went in front of the residences," said student Steven Lavoie about the early morning evacuation.

"When they saw that there was too much smoke, they sent us to the front of the CEGEP, then made us go inside to the cafeteria, where they did a head count."

Students were also sent to the campus intercultural centre where those who were barely dressed could grab donated clothes.

Staff at the CEGEP are providing stranded students with food, clothing and a place to stay after a fire destroyed their student residence. (William Bastille-Denis\Radio-Canada)

The CEGEP has shut down the campus for the day, cancelling scheduled exams, and administrators have created a crisis management team to deal with the students' needs, said  communications officer Marie-Christine Fortin.

"A lot of our employees have stayed on site to help, so certainly all our teams are there to help the students," she said, providing anyone who needs it with clothing, food and shelter.  
Exams have been cancelled for the day at the Gaspé campus of the CÉGEP because of the fire. (William Bastille-Denis\Radio-Canada/)

With files from Radio-Canada