A spectacular fire that police are calling suspicious destroyed a building in Cote-Des-Neiges early on Sunday morning.

Several families were forced to flee after the fire broke out at around 3:00 a.m. in the building on Cote-Des-Neiges Rd. Witnesses said it began in recycling or garbage bins behind the building. Witnesses told police they saw an individual running from the scene. 

Witness Francis Lavigne-Therrien said he was sleeping in a nearby apartment when he heard "a boom."

"I looked through the window and saw the balcony on fire and all the first floor was on fire," he said. "I called 911, I said there was a fire. I woke up my roommate and in five minutes, the fire was up there to the second floor."

The fire is being investigated as an arson.

SPVM spokesperson Caroline Chevrefils said no description of any suspects is yet available and no arrests have been made. 

Police said the inhabitants of 40 apartments in the area were affected. 

Surrounding streets were closed for several hours but have since been reopened. 

More to come.