Firefighters are cleaning up and business owners are heartbroken after a major overnight fire destroyed a strip mall in Montreal's Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough.
Emergency crews were called to the Place Avalon shopping centre, near Saint-Charles and Pierrefonds boulevards, around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Officials say part of the roof collapsed and damage is heavy.
There are about a dozen stores in the strip mall, including Mr. Milky, a dessert shop and café owned by Tamer Hanna, who looked over the charred ruins of his shop with sadness on Wednesday morning.
"It's heartbreaking," he said. "I came here at 2 a.m. and the fire was terrible. Really, it was very bad.... I don't know what will happen. What's the next step? I don't know."
Hanna and other business owners are now uncertain about their futures, awaiting answers about insurance and questioning how they could rebuild their livelihoods.
"Six years we worked here and it finished in one minute," said Basem Ghobrial, co-owner of Marché Aghapy, an Egyptian grocery store that was destroyed by the fire. "We built this … from scratch and after that … finished.
Ghobrial said he isn't giving up.
"We will try to continue after," he said. "I lose my job yes, but now but I'm going to build it again."
No one was injured and the cause of the fire is still unknown.