Friday, July 15, 2016

10 Part Series on the Major Fires of Saint-Hyacinthe (Part 10) April 7, 1992

Fire College Saint-Maurice and the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary

Text from the Clarion Saint-Hyacinthe , Wednesday, April 8, 1992, page 19. By Michel Lamarche

Losses of 40 to 50 million dollars

For Maskoutains, Tuesday, April 7, 1992 will go down as the one of the saddest dates in the history of their municipality, the City of Saint-Hyacinthe has lost a significant part of its heritage, when a huge fire devastated yesterday morning, the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary and the school of Collège Saint-Maurice, a facility built on Girouard Street since 1876.

This disaster has caused consternation among religious, student and alumni that could see the scene of the blaze.
While many religious and students can not hold back their tears, some former students ressassaient all kinds of memories of their passage within the prestigious academic institution.
Even Maskoutains less concerned with the history of the Collège Saint-Maurice were nostalgic watching the events and many seniors this fire compared to those that hit the Seminary of Saint-Hyacinthe, in 1927 and 1963.

Rapid spread
According to what stated Mrs. Céline Dion Desjardins Director responsible students of the 2nd cycle of the College is to say the grades 3, 4, and 5 side, the fire started at 7 am, a room on the 4th floor of the Mother House, which had over for minor renovations. At the time of writing, no one has confirmed if such works were the direct cause of the fire.

If the disaster first hit for the most part in the center of the venerable building, it spread very quickly throughout the establishment, including the part called the Normal School, and in the afternoon, the gymnasium, a much more recent construction located at the east end of the College could be saved.

We were faced with a horizontal and vertical flame spread very fast and more, so around 8 am, 15 minutes after my arrival, we can already say that the fire was out of control, to tell the head of the fire Department of the City of Saint-Hyacinthe, Jacques Desrosiers, at a conference organized at the scene of the disaster Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Desrosiers has also had to defend himself before a heavy fire of questions that have questioned the work of his team.

There is not a leader of a team of firefighters who may be happy to see a building fall under the flames. However, I do know how our men gave a superhuman effort to save the building, but because of the age and the strong wind that blew eastward, the task was impossible, "Mr. Desrosiers to trump that led a team of 90 firefighters not only from Saint-Hyacinthe, but seven other municipalities either Beloeil, Saint-Bruno, Granby, Saint Thomas Aquinas, St. Rosalie, St. Dominic and St. Helena, the staff last two teams remaining on hold.

The incident had reached such proportions that at 8 am, the Desrosiers chief had decided to evacuate the building in which were some 175 nuns including several bedridden permanently and fifty students residents, who in the late morning were back in their family home.

The phase of evacuation was strong efficiently d`environ over half an hour. It involved many resources including Ambulances BGR, Hôtel-Dieu, the Centre hospitalier Honoré-Mercier, the Seminary of Saint-Hyacinthe, the Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of St. Joseph, who have all contributed to one way or another to the welfare and security of the nuns.

Thanks to the evacuation, no one has been killed or injured as a result of the fire.
The nuns were received byvarious institutions in the region, the Seminar and the Houses of the Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Obviously, at the time of writing, it was unclear where, when and how to reorganize the school year, some 450 students attending the College Saint-Maurice.

(Translation may contain errors)

©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson

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