Police say they suspect arson is the cause of a major fire in Parc-Extension after a boarded-up building caught fire for the second time in eight months early Sunday morning.

The fire started just before 5 a.m. ET in an apartment block at 881 Jarry St. at the corner of Wiseman Avenue.

The building that caught fire was boarded up following another fire in December.

However, it is attached to three other apartment buildings. Thirty inhabitants of the neighbouring apartments were forced out of their homes as a precaution.

Sun Youth arrived in the morning to give the evacuees food and juice. One of the residents, Chandra Bhan Singh Senger, credited Sun Youth for accompanying him to the pharmacy so he could get medication he had left behind in the rush to get out.

Borough mayor Anie Samson said she is particularly concerned for the residents affected by the damage, because many of the people living in the neighbouring building are immigrants with low incomes and no insurance.

Fire Operations Chief Ian Ritchie said firefighters are still trying to get into the building to fight the fire at its source. About 125 firefighters attended to the fire on Sunday morning.

Police are following up on a lead that several youths were seen fleeing the scene shortly before the fire broke out.

“The fire’s considered suspicious because just before the fire was declared there were witnesses who said they heard people in the alleyway, they heard a window break and [then saw] five people running from the alley,” said Ritchie.

Parc-Ex fire

A person living across the street from the fire took a cellphone video of smoke pouring out of the boarded-up apartment building on Jarry Street. (Video courtesy of Joe JG)