March 23, 2023

A tenant who was miraculously absent at the time of the fire that ravaged the heritage building in Old Montreal on Thursday denounces the dangerous configuration of the apartments, while at least six people are missing.

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The man, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, claims that several apartments in the building did not have emergency exits or windows.

“My accommodation did not have a single window,” says the man who had lived there for three years.

The latter narrowly escaped death, since he slept at a friend’s house on the night of Wednesday to Thursday.

As soon as he heard the news of the fire when he woke up, he went to the scene to see the extent of the damage.

The building, which is a total loss, was completely destroyed by flames. A hundred firefighters had to be called in to help fight the blaze, which destroyed everything except the exterior structure of the building.

“I lost my home, I lost all my belongings,” he sighs.

Illegal rental

According to the tenant, only 3 of the 15 units were rented year-round, the others being intended for short-term Airbnb-type rentals.

“It was like a clandestine hotel,” he says.

However, the regulations in force in this sector do not allow the establishment of tourist residences, according to research carried out by Le Journal.

“The owner quite wanted the last three people who remained in the building to leave to make 100% Airbnb accommodations,” said the victim.

If he was unable to quantify with precision, he maintains that many units, like his, were not equipped with windows or emergency exits.

One of the victims, Charlie Lacroix, was in this type of accommodation when the fire broke out. She couldn’t leave the apartment because there was no emergency exit, according to her father.

At least seven people are still missing, according to the latest report from the authorities.

The Montreal Fire Department is currently investigating whether working smoke alarms were inside the building. During a press briefing held on Saturday morning, the authorities could not deny or confirm their presence.

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