Nine injured, one person missing after fire engulfs historic building in Old Montreal

MONTREAL — At least one person was missing after fire engulfed a building in Old Montreal on Thursday and left nine people injured.

A Montreal fire department spokesman said six of the injured had to be rescued from the three-storey building in the city's historic district by ladder.

Those people saved from the building were transported to hospital for burns to the hands and face, and there were three people with injuries deemed more serious.

Later in the day, fire officials confirmed they were looking for at least one person who was unaccounted for and warned there could be more.

"We don't know how many people could be missing because several apartments were Airbnb rentals, and our investigators from our incident analysis and fire investigation squad working with the arson squad of the police department are working to track down whoever might have been in the building," Montreal fire Chief Richard Liebmann said.

The cause of the massive blaze remains under investigation, Liebmann said. The blaze was brought under control at about 9:30 a.m.

Patrick Fournel, a fire operations chief, said Montreal police were helping the fire department try to track down the missing person. Firefighters used an infrared camera to search the building and will need to ensure it has cooled and is stable before searching further.

"The roof caved in, so we must be careful before going in," Fournel said.

Authorities were alerted to the missing person after a caregiver called and came to the scene to inquire about their whereabouts.

Firefighters were called at about 5:43 a.m. for the fire at a building that houses an architectural firm and 14 apartments, and it quickly escalated to a five-alarm blaze involving 130 firefighters.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2023.

The Canadian Press