Funeral draws firefighters from afar to pay respects
Hundreds of people arrived at a church north of Gatineau yesterday to bid farewell to a young volunteer firefighter who lost his life while battling a blaze last week.
Mourners gathered at St. Pierre de Wakefield church in Val-des-Monts to remember Andre Manseau as an enthusiastic young man who loved firefighting, spending time outdoors, football, and — above all else — his family and friends.
Manseau, 18, died when a garage collapsed on him at a house fire he attended with fellow firefighters, not far from the church where his funeral was held.
A Val-des-Monts fire truck led the funeral procession to the church. The crowd, which spilled outside the church, was hushed as pallbearers carried Manseau’s helmet, with the number 67, and his wooden casket into the church.
Manseau loved to go fishing and enjoyed football, his aunt Annie Gauthier said in French. She said he was a mature and responsible young man "who wore his heart on his sleeve."
Area firefighters were joined by firefighters from as far as Montreal and Sudbury to pay respects, said MRC des Collines Constable Martin Fournel.
Manseau died on March 9. The fire at 5 Val-du-Lac Rd. was under control when he entered the house to check for hot spots and the garage collapsed.
It is the first time a firefighter has been killed in the municipality.
While the autopsy result is expected this week, police are continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze and the Quebec labour board is conducting its own investigation.
Val-des-Monts firefighter Marco Castagne called Manseau a friend as well as a colleague. He did everything with good humour and enthusiasm, Castagne said.
There are always risks in being a firefighter, and Manseau did the job knowing the risks, he added.
"Andre, you died a hero," Castagne said in French.
Manseau leaves his parents, Alain Manseau and Joelle Gauthier, one brother and two sisters.