A man is in Ottawa Police custody after an overnight fire left seven people homeless in Vanier.

The fire broke out before midnight Thursday, Lise Charbonneau thought to herself, not again.

“Fire truck was here,” said Charbonneau while pointing to the home. “And they had the ladder going.”

A couple and their 2 children were in the upstairs unit and were seen on the sidewalk warming up when first responders arrived. The fire is believed to have started on the lower level.

Neighbour Dorothy Munier said there are at least four units in the building; she delivers mail to the tenants’ mailboxes and said at least two children lived upstairs.

“I could feel it, it was scary,” said Munier.

Her frantic neighbour was heard swearing while running out of the home and onto the road, calling for help.

Officers and firefighters arrived within seconds. One man was heard telling the security officers he’d fallen asleep with a cigarette.

Charbonneau said the fire, which investigators are calling suspicious and likely arson.

“He said he fell asleep with a cigarette, it ignited too fast for that. I doubt that. It's shocking because they just finished renovating it.”

Neighbours said the man arrested is in his 40s; he was living in the recently-renovated home for about a month.

Charbonneau said this is at least the sixth home to havegone up in flames in the last few years; all blocks away from her doorstep.

“I think when one area of town gets cleaned up, the next area of town gets dirtier,” said neighbour Geoffrey Derry.

Neighbours said the home was once a rooming house. Smoke and fire damage is extensive, those in the area fear this might not be the last suspicious house fire after a string of arsons ravaged the neighbourhood for years. Several homes in the community remain barricaded.Fire broke out at this home in Vanier along Deschamps Avenue where neighbours say this was suspicious and one of many fires in this neighbourhood in the past few years ⁦@ctvottawapic.twitter.com/rqRoa3643s

Firefighters responded to a call for a fire at 225 Deschamps Ave. around 12:00 a.m.

When firefighters arrived on scene, the first floor of the four-unit building was fully involved in flames.

Ottawa Police announced at 4:00 a.m. that officers are investigating the fire, and one man was taken into custody. 

Ottawa Fire had reported four adults, two children and a pet were displaced after the fire. Police said a seventh person was living in the home.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army have been called in to provide assistance to the displaced residents.

Ottawa Police reported seven people have been displaced by the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.