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Nearly one year later, families waiting for justice after deadly Old Montreal fire

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It's almost been one year since a fire ripped through a heritage building in Old Montreal, killing seven people.

The tragic anniversary is on Saturday and the fire has raised a lot of unanswered questions and is the subject of several lawsuits as families continue to look for answers.

The building on Place d'Youville is now boarded up and under repair. 

Still, there is very little progress in the police investigation since the fire broke out on March 16, 2023, killing Dania Zafar, 31, and six others.

"I'm not impressed by that. I'm not impressed," said Zafar's father, Zafar Mahmood.

Montreal police have said the fire was criminally set. Insp. David Shane said they did arrest someone but no charges have been laid.

"We really need to be patient because as criminal investigators, we cannot sacrifice time for quality of investigation. We won't get two chances," Shane told CTV News.

He said the investigation is still ongoing and wants to assure families that no stone is left unturned.

"We understand that it's a long time for the victims. We really do. We really feel for them," he said.

The building housed illegal short-term rentals. Shane cannot confirm if any charges will be brought against the building's owner.

Nearly one year after the deadly fire in Old Montreal, no charges have been laid as victims' families wait for justice.

One of the victim's fathers said his daughter was trapped inside a unit with no windows and others reported no fire alarms.

"All the possible infractions from the Criminal Code are on the table. So definitely arson, homicide, but also criminal neglect," he said.

Shortly after the deadly fire, Montreal's squad to crack down on these types of rentals was launched. Since then, three investigators have inspected 400 units and handed out 42 tickets.

The city says it wants to accelerate the work but is not planning on expanding the pilot project to other boroughs.

"We have to increase our collaboration with the Government of Quebec and after that, we'll see," said Benoit Dorais, a member of the city's executive committee.

But for Mahmood, his life will never be the same.

"We miss every inch of her. Her smiles, Her caring attitude," he said

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