Donations have poured in for the victims of the fire in Sept-Iles that destroyed 53 apartments and left 40 residents homeless. Photo courtesy Ville de Sept-Iles

A person is still missing following the fire that ravaged a 52-unit building Saturday in Sept-Iles. The authorities continue their search in collaboration with the family, but have not ruled out the possibility that it may be a victim.

On Sunday morning, firefighters and a team of investigators from the Surete du Quebec began searching the rubble.

"We know who it is, but we have not given a name yet. However, we are still making calls to the population and the family is also making efforts, but we leave no option aside," said Sept-Iles general manager for civil security Patrick Gwilliam.

 Authorities have two theories as to what caused the blaze.

First, a fire was reported around 9:30 p.m. on Friday evening in one of the apartments of the building, but controlled.

The other hypothesis is that a second fire may have been started in another dwelling.

The fire that destroyed the building started around 4 a.m. Saturday inside the building on rue Père-Divet. As soon as the firefighters arrived, they alerted all emergency services because of the large number of potential victims.

Forty tenants lived in the building's 52 dwellings.

The authorities turned to social media asking residents to come forward to confirm that they are safe.

"Long live social media! Sometimes, we can criticize them, but other times it's very good," said Gwilliam, who also called on local radio.

In just 90 minutes, almost all the tenants messaged to say they were okay, and only three people remained missing. Two of them were suspected of being off the grid and unable to communicate. They checked in Sunday morning, leaving one missing.

Social services in the region have also been mobilized to provide psychological help and relocation to people who are homeless, and victims were given three-day accommodation at a hotel.

The municipality has been overwhelmed by donations from citizens, and made the decision to close the furniture and clothing donation center that was opened in a Naval Reserve hangar.

"For the moment, we will wait to know what people need to go dig into this inventory. If we have other specific needs, we will make another appeal to the population, "said Gwilliam who said the municipality received food and all the necessities to furnish an entire home.

Monetary donations are always welcome, he added, but he invites people to speak to Centraide of the Duplessis region, which has launched a campaign dedicated to disaster victims.