3 bodies found at site of fuel distributor explosion north of Montreal

The Propane Lafortune outlet, a family-run business that distributes propane and other fuels including heating oil, went up in flames on Thursday. (Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Propane Lafortune outlet, a family-run business that distributes propane and other fuels including heating oil, went up in flames on Thursday. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

Three bodies have been found at the site of an explosion and fire at a propane distributor in a small town north of Montreal on Thursday.

On Monday, provincial police confirmed three bodies have been found, but they are still trying to identify the remains.

The blast, which rocked Propane Lafortune, a family-run outlet that sold propane and heating oil in Saint-Roch-de-L'Achigan, Que., ignited fuel tanks just before 11:30 a.m. Thursday. It sparked a blaze that forced the evacuation of nearby homes, drew firefighters from across the region and took hours to extinguish.

On Friday, Isabelle Lafortune, who co-owns Propane Lafortune with her sister, told reporters that two of the missing people are employees and the third is a sub-conractor.

The Sûreté du Québec's investigation efforts have been hindered by a snowstorm and safety concerns over the potential of further flammable materials still being on site.

On Sunday morning, staff of the Bienheureuse Marie-Rose Durocher parish organized a mass at the Saint-Roch-de-l'Achigan church on Principale Street to pay tribute to the victims.

Mayor Sébastien Marcil spoke at the service and said the small town is like a family "missing some of its members." He said waiting for answers and being left in the dark has been "extremely difficult."

"You can't imagine how hard it is to not have news about people you love for three days, knowing there's an explosion and the people you know are there," said Marcil.

MNA for Rousseau Louis-Charles Thouin attended the ceremony. He was asked by reporters if provincial police are investigating possible criminal negligence. He said it was important to take "time to do the necessary checks."