Firefighters rushed to a five-alarm fire at Milano’s grocery store in Little Italy Saturday afternoon.

It started at the back of the building on St. Laurent Blvd. at Dante St., likely by a cigarette extinguished in a flower pot.

The fire started about 1:30 p.m. on a second floor balcony in the back.

About 150 firefighters were called to the scene to contain the fire to the building that includes the grocery store on the bottom floor and several apartment units on the upper two floors.

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

Seven residents who lived in the apartments have been forced out and will not be able to return in the near future due to the damage, which is in the tens of thousands of dollars or more. The Red Cross is offering temporary shelter.

"It's devestating," said co-owner Mario Zaurrini on Sunday. "When I saw it this morning, it made me cry. Because it's something that you would never think would happen to you. We're going to make sure the store is going to continue."

There is no timeline for Milano's reopening, though repairs could take weeks. Almost all the store's inventory was ruined by water and smoke damage. 

The store employs 77 people.

The grocery store also received some damage to it, although the extent is so far unknown, said Richard Bourdeau of the Montreal fire department.

Firefighters confirmed that 82-year-old photographer Pierino di Tonno who fought and won against an eviction notice from the owners of Milano’s in the spring was unharmed and his apartment did not need to be evacuated. Firefighters said he lives across the street.

There was some good news: a cat also escaped the fire with help from firefighters. It had some burns on its paws but otherwise seemed to be alright. Watch video here.