Stunned neighbours were surveying the damage on their quiet street in Terrebonne yesterday after a backyard St. Jean Baptiste party went horribly wrong.

A raging fire destroyed three homes and damaged six others Friday night when parts of a neighbour's fireworks display landed on the roof of a house under construction and quickly spread to other buildings.

Yesterday, the normally quiet suburban street in the town just northeast of Laval, had a steady stream of curious motorists and cyclists observing the damage estimated at $900,000 for all the properties hit by the flames.

Neighbours say a man named Gilles, who lives at 17 du Vallon, started the fireworks. Terrebonne police and fire departments would not confirm his identity.

Martin and Roxanne Morin stood in their driveway yesterday watching the onlookers and joked they should set up a toll booth and give the money to the victims.

"We put on Madagascar, (an animated film), for the kids," said Roxanne. She added that although they came together as a community Friday night, they don't normally speak to their neighbours.

Terrebonne fire department chief of operations Jacques Berube said a town bylaw prohibits the use of fireworks without a permit and the supervision of a pyrotechnician. Berube was quick to add that he doesn't think the town will bring charges against the man responsible whose house is one of the three that were destroyed.

"What are we going to do? Give him a fine for $300? I don't think the town will charge him because he's already lost enough," Berube said yesterday. But the insurance company will be asking a lot of questions, he added.

Bouchard, who said he did not remember Gilles's family name, was invited to Gilles's party but declined. Bouchard said Gilles had the fireworks to make the children happy. Mistakes happen, Bouchard added.

Bouchard moved his car and then waited on a nearby street with other residents as firefighters fought the blaze. He said Gilles ran into his home to get his sleeping infant and then rang all his neighbours' doorbells.

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