Local mayor blasts Montreal's civil security team over response to fire in Montréal-Est

·2 min read
A fire has destroyed a recycling plant on Sherbrooke Street in the town of Montréal-Est. The fire started on Sunday morning and kept firefighters busy until Tuesday.  (Antoni Nerestant/CBC - image credit)
A fire has destroyed a recycling plant on Sherbrooke Street in the town of Montréal-Est. The fire started on Sunday morning and kept firefighters busy until Tuesday. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC - image credit)

As stubborn flames at a recycling plant kept firefighters busy for a third straight day, a local mayor lashed out at Montreal's civil security officials, accusing them of keeping her administration in the dark.

A five-alarm fire was declared on Sunday at the plant on Sherbrooke Street in Montréal-Est, a municipality with a population of about 4,300 located between the Montreal boroughs of Anjou and Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles.

Although no one was hurt, the fire destroyed the building and caused traffic tieups in the area. At the fire's peak, about 150 firefighters were on site.

A boil water advisory was in effect for parts of Montréal-Est, as well as the neighbourhood of Pointe-aux-Trembles and the off-island municipality of Charlemagne from June 27 to early morning June 29.

Antoni Nerestant/CBC
Antoni Nerestant/CBC

For three days, smoke has billowed into the sky above Montréal-Est. The mayor claims her administration was unable to reassure her residents regarding air and water quality because it was receiving little to no information from Montreal's civil security team.

"The fire started Sunday at 10:30 in the morning and we finally had some news from civil security only yesterday afternoon at 4 o'clock,"  said Anne St-Laurent, Montréal-Est's mayor.

St-Laurent said she called to complain and found out that a conference call had been scheduled earlier that Monday afternoon. But no one told her — even though the fire was on her territory.

"They invited the wrong city. Our city was not over the phone during the conference call so we didn't know what was happening," St-Laurent said.

St-Laurent said civil security officials told her that not inviting them to the conference call was a "mistake."

Around that time, St-Laurent's phone was ringing off the hook, with residents demanding answers, she said.

The mayor even said some residents knew about the boil water advisory before she did.

"When you have to manage this kind of situation, you should take care of a mistake because a mistake has an impact on many citizens," the mayor said.

Mathieu Wagner/Radio-Canada
Mathieu Wagner/Radio-Canada

CBC News reached out to the city of Montreal and asked about the civil security service's inability to keep the municipality of Montréal-Est informed about the fire.

A spokesperson acknowledged CBC's inquiry but has yet to officially respond.

"We don't have any news from nobody. Maybe the fire [department] knows, maybe somebody else knows, but the mayor who received all the questions from citizens, I was not informed of nothing," St-Laurent said.

"So it was bad for me. It was bad for my citizens because I was stressed, and I transferred this stress to my citizens, probably."

An update on the boil water advisory is expected later Tuesday.

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