Fire in Old Montreal: at least one person is missing

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Fire in Old Montreal: at least one person is missing

Firefighters took several hours to control the blaze that consumed the heritage building in Old Montreal.

A major fire destroyed much of a heritage building in Old Montreal near the Pointe-à-Callière museum on Thursday. The flames were extinguished around noon, but the fire left three seriously injured and at least one person missing, according to the Montreal Fire Department (SIM).


The fire started around 5:45 a.m. in the William-Watson-Ogilvie building, a three-storey building located at the corner of rue du Port and the place D'Youville.

According to the report presented Thursday noon by the SIM, nine people were taken to hospital, including three with serious injuries. And at least one person is missing.

Firefighters will have to wait before continuing their search, however, said SIM director Richard Liebmann. The roof and floors having collapsed. Of course we can't go inside the building because of the instability, he explained.

“We did research with infrared cameras with the help of the SPVM technical team, with a drone, with the aerial ladder, to try to go and see inside, but at this point there is no possibility of survival inside the building. We will not put firefighters or people at risk to get inside until we can put everything out and really stabilize the building. »

— Richard Liebmann, director of the Montreal Fire Department

The list of people missing could also grow, warns Director Liebmann.

There were apartments [that were] for rent, there were others that were [rented short term on] Airbnb. So it's very difficult to trace exactly how many people were in the apartments, in the accommodations, and that's what we're working on now, he said.


The Montreal Fire Department received the call at exactly 5:43 a.m.

To escape death, at least one person had to jump out of a second-story window, Richard Liebmann said. Others were rescued using portable ladders, he added. Some had even taken refuge on the roof.

Seeing that lives were threatened, the alert level was quickly raised after the incident. arrival of firefighters. Three quarters of an hour later, the SIM triggered a fifth alarm, which corresponds to a general alert level.

The fire, whose plume of smoke could be seen just outside the city center on Thursday morning, was fought for several hours before finally being extinguished around noon.

About 150 firefighters were dispatched to the scene, in particular to prevent the blaze from spreading to other buildings, Old Montreal being a particularly dense sector of the metropolis. No other building caught fire, rejoiced director Liebmann.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Over a hundred firefighters were mobilized to put out the fire.

Many emergency vehicles have been deployed in the Old Port. A large security perimeter, around which many onlookers gathered, was also installed in the Place D'Youville sector. Motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Located nearby, the Pointe-à-Callière museum announced in a press release that it will remain closed Thursday and Friday. Aside from smoke infiltration, it is too early to assess the situation related to this event, it was reported, adding that the facilities did not appear to have been affected by the fire.

We sent several teams to protect things inside that building, also commented the director of the SIM.

We worked with people from the x27;operating the museum to protect the artwork as much as possible, he explained. At this point there is no fire damage, but obviously there is a lot of smoke.

Protected under the Cultural Heritage Act, the building damaged by the fire is located at 135 rue du Port and 224 place D'Youville.

The William-Watson-Ogilvie Building, also known as the Ogilvie Flour Mills Building, dates from the 19th century. It bears the name of its first owner, a prominent Montreal businessman.

The William-Watson-Ogilvie building, a three-storey heritage building located at the corner of rue du Port and place D'Youville, was heavily damaged by the flames.

The gray stone building was designed by the architectural firm Hutchison and Steele in 1890. On the ground floor, it houses the offices of the firm Lapointe Magne & Partners and residential units upstairs.

With information from Karine Bastien

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