MONTREAL - The Montreal police’s arson squad is investigating a five-alarm fire that ravaged a building in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district Friday.

The blaze broke out at around 9 p.m. and is believed to have started at a triplex at Ste. Catherine St. E. near the corner of Pie IX Blvd. About 15 people have been left out of home.

Richard, a resident who declined to give his last name, said he was notified by a neighbour that the building was on fire.

“From the roof you could feel the heat as we tried to get out,” he said.

Friends helped Richard and his roommate get their dogs and cat out of the apartment. He said he had no insurance and wasn’t sure where he was going to go.

“Let's face it, all the money I had was in that apartment building and it's all going up in smoke,” he said.

The Montreal fire department was unable to determine what caused of the fire and transferred the investigation over to the police’s arson squad.

Jordan Ashford, another former resident, was also in the apartment when the fire broke out.

Ashford, who had just moved in not long ago, said he was sitting one of the rooms with his roommate when they smelled something burning.

“(I) looked out the window and saw all the firemen running in, kicking in people’s doors and telling them to get out,” he said.

Ashford had enough time to grab a blanket for his dog before he had to evacuate.

Leontine Vanderheyden’s apartment was relatively untouched by the fire, but said the ordeal has been devastating for her neighbours.

“A lot of our really close friends lost everything, literally they have nothing except for the clothes on their backs and their dogs with them,” she said.

It took nine hours for the 250 firefighters who responded to the fire to put out the flames. There were no reports of injuries.

According to the fire department, nearly 80 per cent of the building is unsalvageable.

The Red Cross has offered assistance to 13 residents affected by the fire.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough mayor Real Menard both made their way to the scene of the fire Friday night.

“The most important thing for us is to be here with our citizens to make sure they’re not missing anything,” Coderre said.