L'ISLE-VERTE, Que. — Jean-Eudes Fraser did all he could to save his mother from a nursing home inferno on Thursday, but it wasn't enough.
The roof collapsed on Angeline Guichard before he could reach her, he told QMI Agency.
Four others are confirmed dead and 30 more are missing.
His mother had called him at 12:30 a.m., which was unusual.
"She said 'Come, Le Havre is on fire, I'm outside on the patio, I can't go inside, there's too much smoke. I'm outside on the patio, without my coat, I'm cold.'"
Fraser, who lives a kilometre away in this small town northeast of Quebec City, grabbed a coat for his mother, plus a stepladder.
When he arrived, he saw his mother on a third-floor balcony but his ladder only reached the second floor.
He scaled the rest of the way himself.
As smoke whirled all around them, Fraser's mother said "We'll die here."
He considered staying on the balcony to die with her.
But instead he decided to scale back to the ground because a bigger ladder had arrived — too late.
"As I went back up, the edge of the roof and the electrical wire fell on the patio," he said, breaking out in sobs.
"I couldn't save her, I couldn't save her."
Fraser blames himself.
"I should have brought my ladder and harness," he said. "I'm trained for it...but my equipment stayed in the garage."
Fraser's wife disagrees as she leans over to kiss him.
"He put his life in danger to save his mother."