A major fire broke out in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Thursday afternoon, sending clouds of thick smoke into the air around the Olympic Stadium.

The Montreal fire department said the five-alarm fire started on Bossuet St. at the corner of Hochelaga St.

Because the three-storey building was under construction, it went up in flames very quickly, forcing firefighters at the scene to attack the fire from the outside. They had their work cut out for them because of the bitter cold.

A propane tank used to heat the building exploded, causing some scary moments for people nearby.

“We didn’t hear it but we went outside because we were smelling smoke behind us. We thought it was (our building) on fire,” said Melissa Beaulieu, who was volunteering at a rehab centre nearby.

“We came outside and a propane tank just blew up. There was fire to the other side of the street.”


photo: Max Harrold / CTV Montreal

Beaulieu said the building had been under construction for about eight months and work was nearly complete.

About a dozen families in the area were forced out of their homes because of the blaze – about 60 people in all, said Sylvain Legros of the Montreal fire department. A daycare also had to be evacuated.

Legros said the children were placed on an STM bus and all have since been picked up by their parents.

Firefighters and police officers asked people to avoid the vicinity, but the fire was eventually brought under control by 6:30 p.m.

No one was injured.