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Big O tower to close until summer after fire; Swimming Canada's Olympic trials affected

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The Olympic Stadium tower is being closed down for four to six months after a fire broke out at the Montreal landmark last month.

The March 21 fire, which is under investigation by the Montreal police's (SPVM) arson squad, caused "significant" smoke and water damage as firefighters attempted to extinguish the blaze, the Olympic Park said in a news release Wednesday evening. No one was injured.

The closure of the sports centre, also affected by the fire, is already disrupting at least one major sporting event. Swimming Canada announced Wednesday on social media that it was working on a contingency plan to host the Paris 2024 Olympic trials after learning of "an extended closure of the Olympic pool in Montreal."

"Our top priority is to maintain [Montreal-area trials] on the original dates of May 13-19. We will provide more information as soon as we are able to do so."

The Olympic Park said all 14 floors of the tower were affected by the fire that started on the southeast side of the stadium mast, and that more than 275 people have been working on cleaning up the site and carrying out air quality tests.

The tower houses offices for workers at Desjardins, SIGMA-RH, and the Institut national du sport du Québec, among others. 

A fire at the Olympic Parc on March 21, 2024 resulted in the sports centre to be closed for the entire weekend. (Cosmo Santamaria, CTV News)

"The Olympic Park is very aware of the major impact this disaster has had, and is working with its partners and tenants to relocate them to other premises within its facilities," it said in the release.

"Olympic Park teams are working closely with the Institut national du sport du Québec to ensure that athletes return to a safe and healthy environment as quickly as possible."

The fire department said the fire started at around 1:45 a.m. on March 21. The file was immediately transferred to the SPVM arson squad.

SPVM spokesperson J.P. Brabant said Wednesday that the fire was man-made, but that investigators are still trying to determine whether it was accidental or intentional. No arrests have been made.

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