Montreal's historic Monastère du Bon-Pasteur catches fire
The Monastère du Bon-Pasteur, a monastery in Montreal that dates back nearly two centuries, has caught fire.
A spokesperson for Montreal's fire service says emergency services were called Thursday at around 4:30 p.m. The five-alarm fire is in the roof.
More than 100 firefighters were called to the scene, but the spokesperson said no one has been injured.
It's not clear yet how extensive the damage will be to the monastery.
Smoke can be seen from around the city as the historic building is located on Sherbrooke Street between de Bullion and St-Dominique streets.
"Please avoid the area," said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante on Twitter. "It is still too early to see the damage to the precious heritage building, but there are no fatalities or injuries."
The monastery was built in 1846. The freestone building has a central body that is crossed by three perpendicular wings. A presbytery was added in 1896.
It was built accommodate the activities of the sisters of Notre-Dame du Bon-Pasteur d'Angers. According to Héritage Montréal, the monastery, like McGill University a little further west, was among the first public institutions established along Sherbrooke Street. Héritage Montréal also has its offices in the building.
The monastery retained its religious vocation until the 1960s.
It was designated a heritage building in 1979. It was then acquired in 1984 by the Société immobilière du patrimoine architectural de Montréal (SIMPA).
The monastery now serves as a multi-service centre that includes a seniors' residence, a housing co-operative, a daycare and condominiums. About 20 victims were cared for by the Canadian Red Cross.
Héritage Montréal spokesperson Anthony Payá said organization employees were in the building when everybody inside was ordered to clear out.
"A lot of smoke. We saw the firemen coming," he said. "We feel very sad because at Héritage Montréal we work with heritage every day and we see buildings on fire, like the one in Old Montreal, every week."
Watching the very building they work in catch on fire is a tragedy, he said.
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