MONTREAL, March 21 (AP) Montreal’s mayor vowed on Monday to tighten regulation of Airbnb after a fire tore through a building, including the historic city district where the Airbnb unit is located, was banned , so the search for the six missing persons continues.
Firefighters initially believed one person was missing in the blaze in the eastern Canadian city on Thursday. However, it was later reported that there were illegal Airbnb units in the more than 130-year-old building, and authorities over the weekend updated the missing persons to seven people, some of them from the United States.
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On Sunday night, Montreal police reported that the body of a woman had been pulled from the rubble.
The six people still missing are from Quebec, Ontario and the United States, Montreal police Inspector David Shane said, adding that investigators have contacted their families. The fire also injured nine people, two of whom were hospitalized.
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The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the building included illegal Airbnb units as well as an architect’s office. Plante said Airbnb should require unit owners to provide a license number issued by the Quebec provincial government.
“What happened here is a total tragedy,” Plante said. “Obviously we wouldn’t be in this position if we’d been dealing with a company that took its responsibilities seriously and told these landlords that you don’t have a certificate, you can’t rent out your unit. Want to break the law and not pay taxes, avoid responsibility. “
Plante said she plans to work with the Quebec government to strengthen regulation of short-term rentals.
Nathan Rotman, head of policy for Airbnb Canada, said in an emailed statement: “Our condolences go out to the victims of this tragedy, as well as their families and loved ones. Providing support and assisting law enforcement as they investigate. We have also engaged with the Mayor’s office.”
Alexandre Bergevin, a lawyer for the building’s owner, Emile-Haim Benamor, said Sunday that the Airbnb rental service in the building was not run by his client, but Run by tenants, it added that steps had been taken to stop the practice.
Martin Guilbault, chief of Montreal’s fire operations, said firefighters will begin demolishing the second and third floors of the building on Monday.
Shane said the police fire brigade used drones to help locate the body of the woman who was taken Sunday.
“Let’s say there are six more people in there,” Shane said. “Unfortunately, the various steps we have taken (indicate) that these people who are still missing may be among the rubble.”
City officials say Airbnb-style short-term rentals are illegal in the Old Montreal neighborhood where the building is located. The fire started at Édifice William-Watson-Ogilvie, built in 1890, the city said.
The alarm system was replaced in 2019 and is being tested regularly, Bergevin said in a text message on Sunday.
Shane said no one has been charged in connection with the fire and the cause is still under investigation. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)