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Police say deadly Montreal fire in March is now being criminally investigated

MONTREAL (AP) — A fire in March that killed seven people in a heritage building in Old Montreal has turned into a criminal investigation, Canadian police said Monday.

Montreal police Insp. David Shane said traces of fire accelerants were found at the site, which can help explain why the flames spread so quickly.

He said experts have found out where the fire started, and have ruled out an accidental cause.

Seven people died in the March 16 blaze, including a long-term resident of the building, and six people who were staying in short-term rentals.

Inspectors had reported multiple fire code violations during visits in the years leading up to the fire in the building.

Shane said a coroner’s inquest into the deaths has been suspended while the criminal investigation follows its course.

Montreal’s mayor vowed earlier this year to tighten regulation of Airbnb after the fire. It included Airbnb units in a historic city section where they are banned.