MONTREAL – A major fire in the heart of downtown Montreal has forced 50 people to be evacuated from nearby buildings.

The blaze broke out at 1070 Mackay at around 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon not far from the Bell Centre.

Emergency crews say it began in the basement of the building and then spread.

Parts of Rene-Levesque boulevard remained closed off to traffic for the most part of the night.

The fire damaged a former hotel that had been transformed into social housing.

The Red Cross is offering help to those affected by the fire.

Montreal’s mayor, Denis Coderre, was near the fire and updated the city with tweets and pictures.


©2014Shaw Media