Ottawa

Baby killed, 4 others hurt in 'nightmare' Gatineau fire

A three-month-old baby boy has died following an early morning fire in the city's Buckingham sector that also injured four others.

Neighbour heard screaming before seeing truck on fire

Investigators attempt to determine the cause of a fire in Gatineau, Que., on Aug. 31, 2019, that caused the death of a three-month-old and injured four others. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

A three-month-old baby boy has died following an early morning fire in Gatineau, Que., that also injured four others.

Gatineau firefighters responded to a vehicle fire just before 2 a.m. Saturday on Rue Paluck in the Buckingham area.

When firefighters arrived on scene, a nearby duplex was also on fire.

Gatineau police said that although the flames blocked the building's front door, firefighters were able to bring the five residents outside.

All five were taken to various hospitals. The baby was transported to CHEO in Ottawa and was initially reported to be in critical condition, but shortly after 8:30 p.m., Gatineau police said he had succumbed to his injuries.

A man in his 30s was taken to a Montreal hospital with serious injuries, police said. A 20-month old child also suffered serious injuries, but police said the child's life is not in danger.

Two others, a woman in her 30s and a 12-year-old child, were treated for burns. Police said their injuries were minor and both had been released from hospital by Saturday evening.

The fire on Rue Paluck broke out at around 2 a.m. Saturday. (S.B./Radio-Canada)

'I could smell the smoke'

"This is not understandable. It's a nightmare, that's all I can say," said Lucie Labbé, the baby's grandmother, in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada Saturday afternoon before bursting into tears.

Gisele Belair lives in the ground floor apartment, underneath where the family lived, and said she and her husband were asleep when they suddenly heard yelling.

"When I woke up, I could smell the smoke. I thought it was in the apartment," she said.

Her husband went to investigate and saw their neighbours' pickup truck on fire in the driveway. Belair said they were able to escape, but had to leave their three cats behind.

When they got out, Belair saw a man running and screaming about the children still in the duplex. 

"The kids don't deserve that," she said. "They're not to blame."

Gisele Belair is uncertain how long she'll be out of her ground floor apartment after the unit above her caught fire early Saturday morning. A three-month-old baby boy was killed in the fire, and four others — two adults and two children — were hurt. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

Possibly a criminal act

Serge Gauthier, who lives a block away, said he woke up to a large "bang," followed by two more about one minute apart and a fire truck racing down the street.

He went outside to see what was happening and saw the pickup truck on fire. Gauthier said he believes the noises he heard were the truck's tires popping from the heat.

"I'm so sorry for [the children]," he said. 

As of Saturday afternoon, Gatineau police had not ruled out the possibility the fire was intentionally set, said Andrée East, the force's spokesperson.

"At this point, we have to see if this is criminal or not," East said.

"If it's criminal, we would have to see what charges can be pressed and if we can find the person who committed the crime. But at this point, it is really too soon to say if it is."

Forensic investigators were still at the duplex Saturday evening, analyzing the scene. 

 

With files from Kimberley Molina and Radio-Canada

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