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L'ISLE-VERTE, QUEBEC - (TVA Network/Le Canal Nouvelles/LCNCBC/CNN) - A fire at an elderly living home killed at least three people in the Canadian province of Quebec on Thursday.
Thirty people living in the apartment complex in the town of l'isle-Verte are still missing. Officials say 20 people escaped. Some were transported to a local hospital while others were sheltered in a school.
A witness reported hearing screams coming from the building as the fire raged.
But while officials fear the death toll will rise, police say they're hoping some of the unaccounted for were simply not at home.
"We know that there are 30 people missing, actually. It doesn't mean that those people are dead - maybe they are at some other residences, family, vacation, these are possibilities," said Anne Matthieu, a police spokesperson. "We are working with a lot of different partners; security, firefighters - so we're working with together, but the goal of the Surete du Quebec is to determine if there is any criminal elements or not."
Authorities don't yet know what caused the fire, which destroyed the three-story building.
The CBC reports that many of the people who lived in the building had Alzheimer's disease and used wheelchairs or walkers.
There is no word on the cause of the fire.
Investigators are now trying to determine if the fire was intentionally set and whether the facility had a sprinkler system.
Copyright 2014 TVA Network/Le Canal Nouvelles, CBC News via CNN. All rights reserved.