The building quickly turned into a ball of orange flame within minutes and then spread to neighbouring buildings – Poirier Furniture at 711 Montreal Road and a large brick two-storey apartment building on Alice Street.
The fire was also hot enough to melt the siding on The Shack restaurant, across the street from the building, as well as another building on the west side of Alice Street behind The Shack.
By 8:30 p.m., firefighters were smashing the front windows of Poirier Furniture in order to get to the fire, while orange flames danced through the clouds of smoke in front of a rising moon.
Smoke from the structures could be seen several kilometers away and the spectacle drew hordes of people, many armed with cell phones capturing the moment.
A section of Montreal Road from McConnell Avenue east to Belmont Street is closed to traffic as well as access to the road from various side streets like Prince Arthur and Louisa Streets. The Cornwall Community Police Service and Cornwall Fire Services have both asked people to avoid the area around Alice Street and Montreal Road.
Cornwall-SDG Paramedic Services was also on scene as a precaution and the Cornwall Community Police Service was also controlling the area.
Firefighters were still battling the fire at 10:15 p.m.