Fire broke out at the West Island Assistance Fund in Pierrefonds-Roxboro Monday morning, officials say, then re-ignited two hours later.
The West Island Assistance Fund is one of the three major food banks situated in the West Island, serving more 650 low-income and vulnerable families in the area.
It also provides household items, clothing and other support.
Approximately 150 firefighters were called to the scene on rue du Centre, according to Montreal Fire Department spokesperson Stephanie Lorrain.
“Although the crew is controlling the flames, they were dealing with copious amounts of smoke,” said Lorrain.
At the request of the Montreal Fire Department and in order to cut down on any risks, Hydro-Quebec cut power to the surrounding area. The power has since been restored.
The daycare across the street was also evacuated for safety precautions, due to the heavy smoke.
Firefighters began targeting the roof, after hours of unsuccessful attempts to extinguish the blaze.
The fire was finally extinguished on Monday night at around 7:00 p.m.
According to fire officials, the building was torn down hours later.
“It was a total loss,” said Lorrain.
The fire, she said, has not resulted in any injuries at this time.
According to West Island Community Shares executive director Sophie McCann, Claudine Campeau, West Island Assistance Fund executive director, is in hospital for smoke inhalation.
However, she’s in very stable condition, McCann adds.
According to McCann, Campeau was the last person to leave the building as she hurried to get everyone out of the building safely.
McCann said the affected building is where families gather to build a file, collect second-hand clothes and household items, and is completely destroyed.
The food bank, which is located in a separate area, was not affected by the fire.
The holidays are their busiest time of the year, and according to McCann, they’re prepared to host an emergency toy drive if needed.
The borough released in a statement that all items in the building have been lost in the fire.
McCann said the organizations will be meeting with borough officials on Tuesday to set out a temporary new location and plan to get them through the holidays.
“It is clear that we will work with our community and West Island partners to get the organization back on its feet as soon as possible,” said Beis.
McCann estimates hundreds of items were lost in the blaze.