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Les Coteaux rallies around sole survivor of Gagnon family fire

12/27/2014 02:16 EST | Updated 02/26/2015 05:59 EST
The community of Les Coteaux is rallying around an eight-year-old boy who lost his entire family in an apartment fire days before Christmas.

Mathis, son of Karine Desrochers-Gauthier, 32, Patrick Gagnon, 37, was the sole survivor of the fire that engulfed their family home in Les Coteaux, Que.

He lost his siblings along with his parents. His sister Laurie was four years old, and his brother Felix was two years old.

Now the community of around 5,000 people is coming together to raise money for Mathis.

On Sunday, firefighters will set up a roadblock to collect donations for the boy and his remaining family.

“My team was keen to intervene to help little Mathis,” said Michel Pitre, the regional fire chief.

Mathis was found unconscious when firefighters arrived at the scene of the fire. He spent several days in intensive care at the Ste-Justine hospital.

He should be discharged soon.

“I can’t deny that this case really affected the team,” said Pitre. “They want to help. They really want to get involved.”

The municipalities of Les Coteaux and St. Zotique are also pitching in.

The mayor of Les Coteaux, Denise Godin-Dostie, said she’s received calls from people who want to hold a fundraiser.

On Jan. 5, the two municipalities will collect donations from the public.

Mathis will live with aunt

Mathis' great-grandmother, Mariette Lalonde-Desrochers, told Radio-Canada that Mathis wants to move in with his aunt when he's discharged from the hospital.

She said she welcomes the support from the community, but there's a long road ahead for the young boy.

"I'm pleased because he deserves good support because he's a good little boy. He needs help during this difficult time, he's devastated after what happened," she said. 

"We're asking ourselves how will he get through this, even with all the support."

Cigarette possible cause of fire

A regional spokeswoman with Quebec's provincial police service said Wednesday morning that a smoking device — a cigarette, for example — is currently being looked at by investigators as a possible source of the fire.

The small and relatively contained fire started in the living room of the home of Desrochers-Gauthier and Gagnon, on the third floor of a small apartment building on Des Bouleaux Street.

Four of the five victims were found in their bedrooms by first responders; the fifth person was found in the bathroom.

Pitre said it did not appear as though the home was equipped with a smoke detector.

A facebook page has been set up in memory of the family.

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