Verdun Mayor Jean-François Parenteau says the community's response to a Christmas Day fire that left 50 borough residents homeless has been nothing short of "incredible."

"I've lived exactly what the spirit of Christmas is supposed to be," Parenteau said amid the boxes and bags of clothing and household goods piling up in the backroom of L'Autonomne boutique on Wellington Street.

It all started with an appeal that Parenteau posted to Facebook the night of the fire.


Verdun Mayor Jean-François Parenteau said the donations centre at L'Autonome boutique on Wellington Street will remain open for the next few weeks. (CBC)

Calls and messages started pouring in from around Montreal and before long people began arriving at L'Autonome with their donations.

"People would come to drop off donations and stay to help organize it," Parenteau said.

By Monday, 40 volunteers had amassed 600 to 700 boxes of donations — and there was no sign of generosity letting up.

Parenteau said the donation centre will stay open for the next few weeks so those affected can get what they need as they settle into new apartments.

Starting over 

For residents left homeless by the fire, the donations will help them start over again.

Fire Verdun Christmas

Firefighters work to contain the blaze, which started on the third floor of the three-story building. (CBC)

Tracy Carter's home of 13 years was destroyed, along with almost everything in it.

She returned Monday and managed to salvage some photos of her young son and some of his belongings.

"This is my baby boy," she said through tears, holding up one photo.

"That's about all I have left here."

No one was hurt in the fire, which officials say started in the locker of a neighbouring apartment.

Carter says she hopes to have a new apartment before Jan. 1.

"So we can start the new year off on the right foot."