Major cleaning continued Friday night in the entire catering area of Place de la Cité after a fire severely damaged one of its restaurants, the Beyrouth Cité.
Some sixty firefighters had to deploy heavy machinery to extinguish the flames in the kitchen of the 24-hour Lebanese establishment that is very popular among party-goers at the end of the night. The sappers avoided the greater damages by minimizing the spread of the fire.
Stéphane Morneau was in the kitchen when the fire started, around 6:40 am.
He was cooking meat on the barbecue when he noticed that a fire had been started. The employees rang the alarm and asked people to leave.
Melissa Talbot was beginning her shift shortly before 7 am. “I could clearly see big black smoke.” Firefighters arrived when the fireplace in the restaurant sparked flames.
According to them, smoke and flames emanated from the kitchen hood of Beyrouth Cité, says spokesman Bill Noonan.
Firefighters ordered the evacuation of the complex until 9:00 am. Despite a third alarm, the flames were controlled in less than an hour. Fire damage is limited to the only restaurant in question.
Despite the efforts to ventilate the building, the very strong smell was still present and rather inconvenient in the late afternoon.
In addition to fast food restaurants, four grocery stores remained closed. The clothing shops were able to reopen, as was the Jean Coutu pharmacy located above the restaurant in question.
By including the effects of smoke, the damage could amount to several hundred thousand dollars, firemen say. The food court should be accessible on Saturday. Work in Beyrouth Cité may take a few weeks.
At least four food shops will need to throw out a large quantity of food, including meat.
In the event of power outages, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) publishes clear rules with the goal of avoiding food-borne illness, but what about the effects of smoke or dust?
The Tim Hortons restaurant located a few meters from the fire was closed all day. “We do not take risks,” said one employee.
Meanwhile, the owner of the international grocery store Deli Universel was still trying to contact MAPAQ inspectors by telephone because she was wasn’t sure about what to do regarding the contents of her refrigerators.
“Do not take risks”
“It was difficult, but they eventually came. They said not to take risks, thus we will throw away the meat,” explained Hayet Ben Sheikh.
When in doubt, it is better to get rid of the food, according to the MAPAQ.
The artisan bakery La Mère Michèle will also certainly have to throw out some food.
The Tokyo Sushi Express branch has simply closed its doors for the day.
At the end of the day, Anthony “Tony” Torbey from Beyrouth City was still with the investigators, but refused to comment. The mall security did not appreciate the media presence on Friday.
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