A hair salon destroyed in a fire that gutted a commercial strip mall in the Vimont neighbourhood of Laval early Monday morning belongs to a woman with ties to the Montreal Mafia.

The fire began at a building on René-Laennec Boulevard that houses Streakz Coiffure, bakery Pâtisserie Vimont, a Boni-Soir dépanneur and an ice-cream parlour.

The building is a total loss, with damage conservatively estimated at $2 million, said Laval fire operations chief Daniel Beaupré.

Tony Cerone, who owns the bakery, and another eyewitness who refused to be identified say the fire began in the hair salon.

Laval police spokeswoman Sgt. Geneviève Majeur could not confirm where the fire began nor whether an accelerant was used, but she did confirm another Streakz salon was firebombed last week and that both businesses are owned by the same person.

Links to Rizzutos

Quebec's business registry lists the owner of Streakz as Caterina Miceli.

The registry and court documents show Miceli lived at the same address as Carmelo Cannistraro, who was arrested in 2006 as part of the RCMP-led crackdown on the Mafia, dubbed Project Colisée.

Radio-Canada confirmed that Miceli is listed as Cannistraro's wife on the notary deed for the property.

RCMP documents submitted to Quebec's Charbonneau inquiry list Cannistraro as an associate of Frank Arcadi, one of the Mafia bosses in the Rizzuto clan.

Cannistraro pleaded guilty to gaming and having links to a criminal organization. He was sentenced in 2011.

Baker's livelihood destroyed

Cerone said he was on his way to work to start baking bread this morning, and he followed a fire truck all the way in.

When he arrived, he realized the truck was going to the same place he was.

Wearing only running shoes on his feet, a red Canadiens tuque on his head but no gloves, Cerone stood in the street for hours, looking on as police and firefighters combed the scene.

"I have to live it. I have to go through the pain and live it," he said. "What do you want me to do?"

"Look, I'm speechless. It hurts, that's all. It hurts to see 13 years of sacrifice go up in flames."

Tony Cerone

Tony Cerone, owner of Pâtisserie Vimont, was driving behind a fire truck on his way to work this morning, only to find out when he arrived that the building that houses his business was on fire. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Gas leak complication

When firefighters arrived at the building, it was already engulfed in flames, said Beaupré.

Majeur said the fire was very intense and spread quickly, which led authorities to suspect arson.

The businesses were closed at the time, so the building didn't need to be evacuated, he said. The roof of the building eventually collapsed.

Laval fire

When firefighters arrived at the scene of the fire, the building was already engulfed in flames. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

A gas leak behind the building forced Hydro-Québec to cut power to 400 clients in the area. A Gaz Métropolitain crew at the scene had to dig up the street in order to cut the gas supply.

Firefighters then went through the wreckage to ensure the fire was out.

Forty people in nearby homes were forced to leave for a time, but were back in their houses by late morning.

with files from Kate McKenna