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The flagship Tommy & Lefebvre location on Bank Street, which suffered extensive damage from a fire that started early Tuesday, was considered a landmark store in Ottawa. ((Courtesy of Vince Veness))

A major fire caused the roof of a landmark sporting goods store in downtown Ottawa to collapse overnight and forced the evacuation of several nearby apartments.

Fire broke out at the flagship Tommy & Lefebvre store on Bank Street a little before 1 a.m. Tuesday.

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Tommy & Lefebvre, now severely damaged by fire, was opened by Art Tommy, his brother Andy Tommy and Reg Lefebvre in 1958. ((Courtesy of Mike Gericke))

Police closed off Bank, which is a major north-south artery for bus and vehicle traffic, in both directions between Catherine and Somerset.

They reopened the northbound lane before the heaviest portion of the morning commute.

A total of 92 firefighters fought the blaze at the sporting goods store throughout the night, bringing it under control shortly after 5 a.m.

Crews said they contained the fire damage to the north end of the Tommy & Lefebvre store, which covers most of a block and is attached to a three-storey apartment building that had to be evacuated.

"The guys did a tremendous effort, and we saved a lot of the building and other buildings that were attached to it, so I'm pretty proud of the guys," said platoon fire chief Lawrence King.

The rest of the store, which employs about 50 people, suffered extensive smoke and water damage.

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About 92 firefighters fought the blaze that started at the Tommy & Lefebvre on Bank Street just before 1 a.m. Tuesday. ((CBC))

Natalie Tommy's father, Art Tommy, opened the store in 1958 with his brother Andy Tommy and Reg Lefebvre, all of whom were World Cup skiers and former members of Canada's national ski team.

Natalie Tommy said she and her husband will try to open a temporary location downtown in the wake of the fire.

"It's just devastating," she said Tuesday morning. "It's not just the fact the business is going to have interruptions; that's the least of it. It's more the memories that come with it and the stories.

"This was really a place where skiers came to gather as a community. That's pretty devastating."

Tommy & Lefebvre has five other retail locations.