A fire broke out in the tent city homeless camp in Montreal where dozens have been staying
MONTREAL -- A fire broke out in the tent city encampment along Notre-Dame St. East where a large population of homeless people have set up.
One tent was completely destroyed and a number of others sustained minor damage after the blaze that started around 9 a.m. Saturday.
"When I heard fire I got out of my tent," said resident Jacques Brochu. "We had only two functional extinguishers and we did try to solve the problem but the fire was too intense inside the tent."
Two people were staying in the tent but they were not injured.
"Luckily nobody was hurt but there was a propane tank that did catch on fire because it was right beside the tent," said Montreal Fire Department spokesperson Sandra Lisi.
Luckily, the propane tank did not explode, and the fire could have been much worse.
Louis Rouillard is staying in a tent in the area and said a tent door caught fire because of a candle.
"The girl who woke up, the fire was two feet from her head," he said.
The fire department did a prevention visit Saturday and chatted with the residents to ensure everyone was safe.
"We’ve been doing this quite regularly as well," said Lisi. "These visits so we’ve created a rapport with certain people that live here so they’re used to seeing us."
Lisi added that the fact that the tents are very close together and that there is an abundance of flammable material coupled with cooler temperatures means the risk is high of fires starting.
The situation at the camp, which has grown to dozens of tents, is one that Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough Mayor Pierre Lassard-Blais has been concerned about for months.
The fire illustrates the need to act for the mayor.
The propane could have exploded and killed two people," he said. "The fire could have burned other tents. The security of the people here is the priority and we see that it’s not sustainable."
He said it's the third fire in the last two weeks at the camp. He wants the homeless people living there to take advantage of the available beds the city has recently opened.
"Just in the neighbourhood here we’ve opened a centre with more than 100 beds," said the mayor.
He added that he would like the provincial government to do more to help the homeless in his borough.
"What we’re seeing right now is under financing for many years," he said.