West Quebec fire kills couple, leaves pair homeless

A house fire in Quebec's Pontiac region left a couple dead and the two homeowners without a place to live.

One of victims had outstanding warrants for arrest; was using assumed name

RAW Fatal Quebec fire

8 years ago
Two people died after a west Quebec fire near the Gatineau River. 2:08

A house fire in west Quebec has left a couple dead and others homeless, after the home was destroyed.

Firefighters responded around 10:00 p.m. Saturday to a home at 3122 Ch. Wilson in the Municipality of Pontiac, near Highway 148 and the Ottawa River.

When they arrived, the structure was already engulfed in flames, officials said.

The homeowners, who lived on the main floor, heard the smoke alarm and saw smoke and flames coming from the basement.

Police said the homeowners tried to call 911 while inside but the fire cut the phone line. They then escaped and called 911 from outside after smoke filled their home.

They said they could not hear their tenants, who lived in the basement. The woman and her boyfriend, who had recently moved in and had horses on the property, never made it out of the building because they couldn't see through all the smoke, officials said.

No foul play suspected

They have been identified as 56-year-old Corina Usher Hayward and 51-year-old Richard Henry Neil.

MRC des Collines said Neil had a warrant for his arrest by police in both the Niagara and Sudbury regions for charges including breach of probation.

Neil had been using an alias, but police used his fingerprints to identify him.

MRC des Collines Const. Martin Fournel said police still do not believe the fire was suspicious.

"Since Mr. Neal was living in the area he was not known from our police service...even with what we are discovering right now about his identity we still believe that [there] was no foul play in that fire," said Fournel.

The victims' bodies were found by firefighters after the blaze was knocked down and taken to Shawville Hospital. They were pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.

The homeowners' dog and cat also died in the fire.

Fire officials continue to investigate the cause of the fire, but they did say the smoke alarms in the home were working.

Autopsies will be performed in Montreal sometime this week, police said Monday.