About 30 Park Extension residents were forced from their homes early Saturday morning after a suspicious fire was set at 891 Jarry W.

“It’s considered criminal,” Montreal firefighter Ian Ritchie told CTV Montreal. “Just before it started there was a noise in the alleyway. Two witnesses said they saw people playing in the alley followed by a loud bang and then saw five people running in the alleyway, followed by a fire on the first floor.”

The fire spread upwards to the roof, which then collapsed in the heat.

Neighbour Manuel Dias said that he was lucky to get out alive. He covered his face with a wet cloth and navigated through dense smoke.

“The smoke was dark, it was very heavy,” he said.

A fire that erupted near the same spot last December had been deemed accidental.

Sun Youth was on the scene helping displaced residents, who were unsure when they could return to their homes.

“We spotted a man who needed access to his meds so we drove him to his pharmacy and we covered the cost of the medication for him. We helped out with baby supplies. There was a little girl who needed diapers and wipes,” said Eric Kingsley of Sun Youth.

The landlord of the neighbouring building said Sunday afternoon that he still had no word on when residents would be allowed back.

“I have no idea, we should know maybe later on today when they put back the electricity,” said Jenny Smyrneos.