Authorities to investigate Que. building collapse that left three women dead

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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MORIN HEIGHTS, Que. - A small Quebec town is in mourning as three women were killed after the roof of a building caved in on them Wednesday afternoon.
Authorities strongly suspect that an accumulation of snow was part of what caused the roof of the food-distribution warehouse to crumble in Morin Heights, northwest of Montreal.
The deaths of the three female employees of a specialty foods business was confirmed in the evening at a hospital, not long after they had been plucked from the rubble of the building by emergency crews.
Quebec provincial police spokesman Marc Butz said both the provincial police and Quebec workers' health and safety commission will investigate the collapse in the coming days.
Butz said the victims are all employees of Gourmet du Village and are 46, 54 and 62 years old.
The three women were working with about 40 other people at the food-distribution warehouse when the roof caved in just after lunchtime.
The three were located about four hours after the collapse.
Emergency crews had held out hope they'd find the three women alive.
Yves Desmarais, director-general of the town of Morin Heights, originally said the trapped employees could be heard talking.
But police later said they had no contact with anyone trapped inside the building.
Firefighters used a mechanical shovel to comb through the debris and found the women within close proximity of each other.
Authorities will investigate just how the three women died, Butz said.
Employees told reporters they had just gotten back from lunch when they heard cracks and sounds of snow on the roof shortly before it gave way.
Butz said a fire that broke out shortly after the snow-laden roof caved in was quickly extinguished.
The building housed a family-run business called Gourmet du Village, a food distribution company that has operated in the town since 1982.
Business records show the company is owned by Mike and Linda Tott. It is considered the largest employer in the small town of just over 2,700 nestled in the Laurentians.
The front of the building was a store front and the area that collapsed included the production and purchasing departments, a sales associate said.
Morin Heights resident Brigitte Paiement was shaken by the day's events.
''I'm lucky, my partner got out,'' Paiement said before the tragic discovery. ''The people who work there are a big family and it's so sad and we can only hope things turn out well.''
Another man who worked for the company in the past said the employees are a tight-knit group.
Heavy snowfalls in recent weeks have resulted in a number of building evacuations in Quebec.

Geographic location: MORIN HEIGHTS, Quebec, Montreal Laurentians

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