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Residents briefly allowed back in their homes after fire gutted Dorval apartment building

Residents went back to what was left of their homes Monday after a fire destroyed part of a Dorval apartment building last weekend.

They each had only 10 minutes to salvage what they could.

For Stephen Porter and April Mansfield, it was the first time they saw the damage from the fire since they left it in a panic on Saturday.

"OK, well, I can't get to my documents. I don't even think there is anything salvageable here," said Mansfield, surveying what was left of her home.

Porter said the sight left him feeling "overwhelmed."

"I think [I'm] just devastated and shocked," Mansfield said, "because a lot of people on the lower floors can salvage quite a bit, but us, it was just — there was nothing left. It was just char and ash and sludge."

Firefighters observe the damage from a fire that burned down homes in a Dorval apartment building. (Amanda Kline/CTV News)

Two by two, in 10-minute intervals, dozens of residents tried to grab what they could. For many who lived on the third floor, it came with the realization that they will likely never be back.

"[I'm] devastated," said Julianna Mason. "I grew up here. This is the place where I went when I first came to Canada. So, you know, all my stuff, everything from my country, all the things from when I was a baby. Everything's there."

Mason is one of almost 50 people, including 12 children, currently living in temporary housing for three days through the Canadian Red Cross' emergency response plan.

"We are working, as well as the Red Cross, in finding temporary housing for people. We are going to find out shortly in the next few days whether or not the building can be rebuilt," said Dorval Mayor Marc Doret.

"That would be the best-case scenario."

It's still not clear what caused the 4-alarm fire, which started on the balcony of one of the third-floor apartments and spread quickly. Many residents say they never heard an alarm.

"Thank God people realized because this building was never aware. The alarm was not sounding here in none of the apartments," Mason said.

The City of Dorval is collecting donations for essential items like toilet paper and toothpaste for now.

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