An early-morning fire has gutted Syrian restaurant Damas on Parc Avenue.

The fire started just after 5 a.m. Friday inside the ground-floor restaurant. It was extinguished about an hour and a half later by 40 firefighters.

Damas restaurant fire Feb 6 2015

Fire chief Ian Ritchie says the fire could have been intentionally set. The dossier will be transferred to Montreal police. (Radio-Canada)

Fire department operations chief Ian Ritchie said the fire could have been intentionally set.

"There are certain indications that we have in the fire scene that it was suspicious, therefore the fire will be transferred to the Montreal police department," Ritchie said.

He said the fire did not spread to the second floor of the two-storey building, but that it and the neighbouring buildings on either side were evacuated as a precaution.

He said the 20 or so people who were forced from the buildings were able to return home.

Damas restaurant fire Feb 6 2015

About 20 residents from nearby apartments were evacuated from their buildings as a precaution early Friday morning after a fire broke out inside a Syrian restaurant in Mile End. (Radio-Canada)