Police investigate, residents assess damage after major St-Henri fire

Click to play video: 'Residents start cleaning up following suspicious St. Henri fire' Residents start cleaning up following suspicious St. Henri fire
WATCH: Residents of Marin street in the South West borough are cleaning up after fire tore through multiple buildings early Sunday morning. After going through the rubble, the fire department has deemed the fire suspicious. As Global's Dan Spector explains, the Montreal Police Arson Squad is investigating – Aug 5, 2019

The investigation into a fire in St-Henri is now in the hands of the Montreal police arson squad. It took 155 firefighters hours to bring the blaze on Marin Avenue in St-Henri under control, after a neighbour called 911 at around 1:30 a.m.

No residents were injured, authorities say.

“This investigation has been transferred to the Montreal police arson squad,” said Montreal Police spokesman Raphael Bergeron. “There is not much evidence concerning that yet, it’s still under investigation.”

Monday, Marin was scattered with people assessing damage and picking up the pieces.

READ MORE: 155 firefighters called to extinguish major fire in St-Henri

“A lot of the roof caved in,” said Kim Chisholm, who was on hand helping clean out his friend’s home. Chisholm said the home caught fire while its owner is vacationing in France.

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“He’s French, so he said, ‘save my cookbooks, my Creuset pots and pans, and my wine,’ so that’s what we got out of here so far,” Chisholm said, smiling.

The damage was the most severe at the back of the affected cluster of attached buildings.

The back part of Chisholm’s friend’s unit was ravaged by flames, whereas the front end with the kitchen is almost totally intact.

“Ironically, he wanted to redo his kitchen. That’s probably the only thing that survived the fire completely,” Chisholm told Global News.

READ MORE: Montreal firefighters now doing fire inspections by bike in Ville-Marie borough

A few doors down, two units were a total loss, according to their owner Sophie Gironnay. Gironnay has lived on the street for 30 years and said she was told her building would have to come down.

“I’m really pre-occupied with what will happen,” she told Global News. “Two houses are now to be demolished. I probably won’t be able to rebuild myself, I won’t have the money.”

Gironnay, co-founder of the Maison de l’Architecture du Quebec, said some of the buildings that caught fire date from St-Henri’s industrial era over a century ago.

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“The whole street was from around 1880, it’s all Victorian triplexes,” she said, adding she fears the rebuilt versions may not honour Montreal heritage.

Residents of buildings that can be salvaged have been told they won’t be livable for several months.

It’s just the beginning of a long ordeal for at least six families who are now homeless.

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