Fire deliberately set that burned century-old building in downtown Montreal
MONTREAL -- A billowing cloud of smoke rose above downtown Montreal on Friday as a more than century-old building burned.
The SPVM's arson squad confirmed the fire was deliberately set inside the building on a pile of wood. There are no suspects at the moment.
At about 2:30 p.m., dozens of firefighters rushed to the corner of Lucien-Lallier and Argyle streets where flames had ignited inside a building that was once used as a hospital during Montreal's typhoid epidemic, according to a 2014 Montreal Gazette Article written by Robert Wilkins, a local historian and writer.
On Friday, firefighters found the building under construction--it had been vacant, ostensibly earmarked to be renovated as part of a new condo development, Centra Condos, according to plans and images of the project on the developer's website.
Metal framework, akin to scaffolding, surrounded the building's red brick walls, preventing firefighters from easily accessing the blaze inside. Instead, they used defensive tactics, spraying water at the structure in an attempt to keep the flames from spreading, according to Montreal fire chief Matthew Griffith, who said it was a heritage building.
After The Bell Telephone Company built it in the early 1890s, the building was deserted for several years until thousands of cases of typhoid, a bacterial infection that causes fever, struck Montreal.
Hospitals overflowed with patients in 1909, the Gazette article said, and Northern Electric, then owner of the building, offered it to the city rent-free for three months for use as a makeshift hospital.
During the height of the crisis, officials brought patients to the building, where they were treated. Surprisingly, the article noted, only six died.
As it burned on Friday, Montreal police closed streets in the area and the west entrance to Lucien-L'allier Metro station.
As of 7 p.m., firefighters had contained the blaze but had yet to step inside.
Saturday morning, Montreal Police confirmed there were no injuries.
Centra Condos did not respond to calls, and the extent of the damage was unclear on Friday evening.