Three IU students — Alexander Dilkovski, Pedro Pozos and Kaleb Del Real — and one IUPUI student, Eduardo Chairez, escaped from a burning building in Old Montreal, a neighborhood in Quebec, Canada, on March 16, according to an email from Dilkovski, one of the IU students in the fire.
The Old Montreal building was a historic building. Several units in the building were being rented out as illegal Airbnbs, according to the Montreal Gazette. The four students were staying in an Airbnb on the second floor. Their apartment’s fire alarm failed to go off and the hallway outside their apartment was completely engulfed in flames. After breaking a window, the four young men stood on the ledge right outside.
“The smoke was still overwhelming, and we did not know how long we would have to stay up on that ledge,” Dilkovski said in the email. “We could hear other windows breaking and people screaming. Far from a pleasant sight.”
Pozos and Chairez jumped from the ledge outside the window. Shortly after, firefighters rescued Dilkovski and Del Real from the ledge with a ladder, Dilkovski said in the email.
Nine people total were injured in the fire, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Dilkovski suffered minor injuries. Pozos suffered some fractures in his feet from the jump and had back pain. Chairez had injured his ankles and was having trouble breathing as a result of inhaling large amounts of smoke. Del Real got surgery on his arm, as the doctors had determined he had cut an artery in his attempts to break the window, according to the email.
Chairez was discharged from the hospital March 24. Del Real has both arms in casts and is recovering at home with family. He will likely have to go through physical therapy to regain full function of his fingers. Pozos is getting ready to return to school next week, Dilkovski said in the email.
“One day you are having the time of your life with your boys in Montreal, and a few hours later you are scrambling for your life,” Dilkovski said in the email.
These students weren’t the only ones affected. Police are still searching for remaining victims of the fire. Four people are confirmed dead and three remain missing, according to an email from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal Media Relations.
The father of one of the missing victims is calling for the city to make sure all rentals have proper fire escapes.
Safety concerns in the Old Montreal building, such as apartments with no windows and others with windows glued shut, have been brought to light over the past couple of years. During the fire, some people were trapped inside their apartments without any escape routes, Dilkovski said in the email.