Police and firefighters in Canada who extinguished a fire last week mistakenly threw the remains of a burned woman into a dumpster after they mistook her body for a mannequin.
The National Post reported that the mishap occurred in Sherbrooke in the province of Quebec, about 100 miles east of Montreal.
On the morning of July 23, a brushfire was reported behind a factory, according to the Post.
Witnesses allegedly told authorities that they thought a silicone mannequin had been set on fire.
The fire was put out, and after consulting with firefighters, police decided to dispose of what they believed to be a mannequin in a police station dumpster.
The supposed mannequin was actually the body of a female victim of the fire.
The victim was reportedly married and had children. Neither the woman nor her family were identified by the Post.
— CBC Canadian News (@CBCCanada) July 29, 2021
Sherbrook Police Chief Danny McConnell apologized for the mistake in a Thursday media briefing alongside the city’s fire chief and a senior city official.
“We are evidently sorry for this situation and rest assured the family is being advised at each key moment of this investigation,” the police chief said.
McConnell told reporters that the mix-up wasn’t discovered until the woman’s husband called police to report her missing on the day of the fire.
Officers tracked the woman’s cellphone and found that her car was near the scene of the blaze.
Several hours later, investigators decided to search the dumpster for clues and discovered human remains.
Stephane Simoneau, head of Sherbrooke’s fire department, promised to get to the bottom of the incident.
He said psychological counseling was being offered to his staff.
“We take the situation very seriously,” he said. “I am personally committed to shedding light on this intervention, which is unusual — even shocking — to say the least.”
An investigation is underway and a prosecutor’s office has been notified, according to the Post. Police have not revealed how they believe the fire might have started.
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