A five-alarm fire in St-Henri destroys a 25-unit residential building

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The Montreal Police Department’s arson squad is investigating the cause of a five-alarm fire in the Sud-Ouest borough that destroyed a three-story gray stone residence overnight from Saturday to Saturday.

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The occupants of the 25 units in the 19th century building were all able to leave safely and no injuries were reported, but they will not be able to return to their homes.

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“The building is a total loss,” Montreal Fire Department spokesman Alain Laflamme said Sunday.

Seven families were being looked after by the Red Cross, he said; the rest went to stay with family or friends.

A 911 call arrived around 11:15 p.m. for 4359 St-Jacques Street, near the intersection of Ste-Marguerite Street in St-Henri, Laflamme said. Residents were already outside when firefighters arrived and the building was smoky, he added. Upon entering, firefighters found that the first floor was already burning.

A general alarm fire (or five alarms) was quickly called. At the height of the blaze, more than 150 firefighters and 30 trucks were on the scene.

It was a difficult fire, Laflamme said: As it spread rapidly inside the walls and floors of the structure, built in the 1880s, firefighters were forced to battle the blaze from the outside.

The fire was extinguished around 8 a.m. Sunday but St-Jacques remained closed Sunday between Ste-Marguerite and Lagarde streets.

When the cause of a fire is unknown or suspicious, the fire department transfers the case to the police arson squad, Laflamme said.

Caroline Chèvrefils, spokesperson for the Montreal police, confirmed on Sunday that the fire department had transferred the file to the arson brigade.

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