Michel Brochu had 18 years of experience with the Montreal fire department. ((CBC))

A former Montreal firefighter convicted of setting fire to a Canadian Tire store will not spend time behind bars.

Michel Brochu was sentenced Friday at the Montreal courthouse to two years less a day of house arrest.

Brochu, who had 18 years of experience with the department, was not himself when he set fire to the store in May 2007, his lawyer had argued.

The prosecution agreed that Brochu had not intended to cause harm to anyone but himself.

Brochu had just gone through a breakup, had been drinking and was contemplating suicide when he walked into the store on Sherbrooke Street East in Montreal.

"He was in the camping section … and somehow started a fire with accelerant," said Crown prosecutor Louis Miville-Deschênes. "At the last second, he changed his mind."

Brochu, who was 45 at the time of the incident, left the store before firefighters arrived.

Firefighters had to call on Petro-Canada and Shell emergency workers for assistance because of the high volume of inflammable materials on the premises.

The fire was extinguished and then started again several hours later that evening, with the second flare-up burning through the night.

The store was gutted and total damages were estimated at more than $3 million.


The fire in May 2007 caused $3 million in damages at the Canadian Tire in east-end Montreal. ((CBC))

Although the store was crowded with people at the time the fire was started, no one was injured in the incident.

A member of the fire department since 1989, Brochu worked at station 38 — just a two kilometres from the Canadian Tire store. He wasn't on duty the night of the fire May 24 2009.

Brochu was suspended without pay after he turned himself in to police on July 15, 2009.

For the past two years, he has been sober and is working in renovations.

Brochu will not be able to leave his house for more than three hours, except for work purposes or a medical emergency.

The Crown said Brochu may still face civil lawsuits as a result of the fire.