Owner of gutted Montreal warehouse says he will rebuild company
Published Saturday, December 1, 2012 11:20AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, December 1, 2012 10:38PM EST
The owner of a Montreal oil-delivery service says he will rebuild his business after a fire gutted his company’s warehouse but amazingly spared nearby homes.
It took more than 150 firefighters to put out the fire in the east-end warehouse that houses oil reservoirs for Bouthillier-Rioux Inc.
Residents in the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maissoneuve neighbourhood said they heard an explosion in the warehouse at around 4 p.m. Friday. Within minutes, spectacular flames and thick smoke billowed up into the sky, which could be seen for several kilometres.
The fire department said it took firefighters nearly two hours to tame the blaze. According to firefighters, oil delivery trucks were inside when the fire started, which helped the flames spread quickly.
"There are reservoirs and delivery trucks inside," fire department spokeswoman Elise Breault told reporters.
The flames burst out of numerous windows and began to spread to nearby residential buildings. Firefighters had to smash the windows of an adjacent duplex and blast the flames with water and foam to contain the blaze.
No one was injured, and nearby homes escaped major damage.
“Due to the (fire’s) intensity, it was remarkable that the fire didn’t spread,” said operational fire chief Andre Paquet. He credited the “direct attack” of the firefighters who responded to the call.
The company’s owner, Sylvain Vaillancourt, was on vacation in Mexico when the fire broke out, but was at the scene Saturday to survey the damage.
Vaillancourt said he is the third generation of his family to own the business, which had just entered the busy winter season.
“It’s a small business, so we’re like a family, my employees are pretty close to me,” Vaillancourt told CTV Montreal of his company’s 30 workers. “But I’ll make it, I’ll get through it.”
Vaillancourt said he knows of a building to which he can relocate his business.
On Friday, hundreds of residents had to be evacuated because of the smoke, which firefighters feared would be toxic. Neighbours who stayed were told to keep their windows shut.
Many onlookers and nearby residents stood in a park and watched firefighters bring the blaze under control.
Power was cut to 2,200 clients in an area covering at least two dozen city blocks. Power was slowly restored to most residents overnight.
Firefighters said Saturday that the fire appeared to be accidental, but an investigation is underway to determine the exact cause.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Camille Ross