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Man in his 80s hospitalized after major fire at Montreal heritage building


Twenty-seven people were displaced and one person was hospitalized following a major fire at a Montreal heritage building Thursday, which was still burning early Friday morning.

A man in his 80s was discovered inside an apartment hours after the building was evacuated of its other occupants. Firefighters say it's not clear why he was still in the building, but that he suffered from hypothermia and was transported to hospital. 

The five-alarm fire is at the former Monastère du Bon-Pasteur, a building in the Ville-Marie borough that was built in 1846 at the corner of Sherbrooke and de Bullion Streets. 

A spokesperson for the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal (SIM) said the blaze started around 4:40 p.m. Thursday and that approximately 150 firefighters responded to it. The fire started in the attic of the building, which has a gable roof and was no longer being used as a monastery. 

Twenty-seven people were taken into the care of the Red Cross. 

Photos from a witness who spoke to CTV News show smoke coming from the roof of the building.

"The fire seems to have spread to the roof," said McGill University professor Daniel Beland on social media, sharing video of the blaze. 

The building is surrounded by apartments and local businesses. Authorities blocked off the intersection, forcing traffic to reroute around it.

A section of Sherbrooke St. was closed to traffic between Saint-Laurent Blvd and l'Hôtel-de-Ville Ave. Saint-Laurent Blvd is also inaccessible between Ontario and Sherbrooke streets.

Large plumes of smoke were visible from blocks away, drifting into the downtown core. 

Friday morning, Environment Canada said pollution levels were "higher than normal" in the area due to the blaze.

"People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels," reads a notice from the agency.  


The building has been a recognized heritage site since 1981. In 1984, it was acquired by the Société immobilière du patrimoine architectural de Montréal (SIMPA).

Inside, there is a daycare, a seniors' home, condominiums, a housing co-op, and a concert hall, which is recognized by the city as "one of the most prestigious" music spaces in Montreal.  

The building is also home to a "unique" collection of musical instruments, including a Fazioli concert piano and a Kirckman harpsichord from 1772. It also serves as an office for Heritage Montreal.

The Heritage offices are located directly underneath the concert hall, where the damage is believed to be severe.

"It's a very significant building," said Dinu Bumbaru, policy director at Heritage Montreal. "We've been there for almost 20 years ... a part of our spirit is gone." 

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante reacted to the fire on social media later in the evening to thank first responders for their quick response. 

"It is still too early to ascertain the damage suffered by the precious heritage building, but there are no fatalities or injuries," she wrote. "A huge thank you to (Montreal firefighters) for their work and dedication."

She also asked residents to avoid the area. 

-- Published with files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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