An investigation by the coroner reveals how the fire that claimed the lives of two foreign workers in Clermont in the Charlevoix region, almost a year ago, was dazzling.
J. Jesus Rodriguez Cervantes, a 44-year-old man from Mexico, was in his room on the second floor when the fire broke out in the afternoon of March 4, 2020, in the residence on rue des Vingt-et- one he shared with five other farm workers.
According to the coroner’s report, he was in communication by videoconference with his wife, with the Messenger application, when the latter noticed the presence of gray smoke infiltrating through the door of the room.
The 40-year-old went to open a window and the communication suddenly broke off. The man’s charred body was found the next morning lying on the ground near his bed by fire technicians. A toxicological analysis showed the presence of methamphetamine in his blood.
The other victim, César Alfredo Coy Cheguén, 23, from Guatemala, was found in the kitchen, near a door giving access to the outside. According to what it had been possible to learn at the time, the young man had arrived in Quebec a few months earlier.
The two men, chicken catchers, died of asphyxiation from smoke inhalation, according to coroner Donald Nicole.
As for their four comrades who survived, they managed to extricate themselves from the house “in extremis”. The six workers returned to the home at around 2:00 p.m. after their shift and most returned to their rooms after the meal.
The fire started in the kitchen on the first floor at around 4 p.m. Examination of the scene suggests that an accidentally left skillet on a working stove is involved, but the report is not clear on who was the last person to handle the appliance.
The fire safety department was alerted around 4:05 p.m. by passers-by to the presence of smoke coming from the building. Unfortunately, the situation deteriorated quickly and when the firefighters arrived ten minutes later, it was a general conflagration, to such an extent that none of them were able to get inside, for security reasons.
“Some workers seem to have heard the smoke alarm and others have not. Given the destruction of the building, it is impossible to confirm whether all the smoke alarms were functional ”, also raises the coroner.