Ivelaw Corbin, a former deacon at a Hampstead church and a well-respected member of the West Island's black community, died following a house fire at his Kirkland home early this morning.

Fire crews were called to the one-storey home on Marcel Meloche Street at around 4:15 a.m. ET.

Montreal fire department spokesman Benoît Fleury said the sole occupant of the house was in cardiac arrest and was transported to hospital.

Const. Lynn Duncan of the Montreal police said Corbin was confirmed dead in hospital.

'A big loss'

Neighbours and friends said Corbin, 82, was an active and well-respected member of West Island's black community. 

Clinton Burrowes

Clinton Burrowes knew Corbin since the late 1960s and said his friend was a great, "unique" dancer. (CBC)

“This is a big loss. [He was] somebody we are all very close with and someone we have shared a lot of good times with,” said Eileen White, a member of the West Island Black Community Association. 

Corbin's wife, who was also active with the West Island Black Community Association​, is currently living in a nursing home after suffering a hip injury.

Neighbour Kim McElligott said he was a quiet and polite man who was living by himself in the house where he and his wife raised their children. 

Friend and neighbour Trevor Hall knew the victim for more than three decades.

"He has been retired for a number of years now, but I mean he still got around, he's got quite a few cars. He's a pretty good mechanic, as you can see. He's always working. Making very good friends with his neighbours. We got along great," Hall said.

Family friend Clinton Burrowes said he'd known Corbin since the late 1960s and said his friend had a great spirit.

"Ivelaw was a very happy-go-lucky man. You wanna see him dance. Something to see. We'll always remember him," Burrowes said.

The police arson squad is investigating the cause of the fire but say early signs indicate it was an accident.