A smoker accidentally started a fire that forced the evacuation of several apartment buildings.

The fire started around 3 a.m. on Brisset St. near Le Caron, in the Cote St. Paul neigbourhood of the SouthWest borough.

One hour and 45 minutes later firefighters called for more help, and the fire was finally under control, although not extinguished, shortly after 7 a.m.

About 30 people had to flee their homes as the flames spread from a shed to the apartment building, and the neighbouring buildings also had to be evacuated.

Many people took shelter in a bus during the early morning hours, and about half a dozen residents will not be able to return home until their apartments have been repaired.