Crews bat­tle mas­sive fire in Toronto

Un­com­monly large blaze threat­ened condo build­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - LIAM CASEY

TORONTO — Fire­fight­ers poured wa­ter from seven aerial lad­ders and bal­conies of neigh­bour­ing high rises Tues­day in an ef­fort to con­trol a mas­sive and “haz­ardous” blaze in mid­town Toronto that forced the evac­u­a­tion of sur­round­ing build­ings.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said they were in a de­fen­sive mode as they tried to keep the fire con­tained to The Bad­minton and Rac­quet Club.

“We’re con­fi­dent that the fire is con­tained,” Pegg told an af­ter­noon news con­fer­ence, adding that heavy ex­ca­va­tion equip­ment had been brought to the site to knock down walls so that fire­fight­ers could get to the “seat” of the blaze.

“Ev­ery­one in that build­ing that we know that was in­side that build­ing is safe and ac­counted for, so that’s good news,” Pegg said.

Parts of the roof of the build­ing col­lapsed send­ing smoke bil­low­ing over a wide area.

“The con­di­tion of the build­ing in­volved in the fire continues to worsen so we’re still deal­ing with some very, very ac­cel­er­ated col­lapse po­ten­tial, and very, very heavy fire,” he said.

Capt. David Eck­er­man said ear­lier they needed Toronto Wa­ter to boost wa­ter pres­sure to help bat­tle the blaze.

Pegg called it “a very dif­fi­cult and very haz­ardous fire fight for our crews,” adding they were con­cerned about the blaze spread­ing to neigh­bour­ing build­ings, in­clud­ing a 14-storey, 87-unit con­do­minium that has also been evac­u­ated.

Toronto po­lice Const. David Hop­kin­son said buses were brought in to shel­ter peo­ple forced to leave their homes and said sub­way trains were not stop­ping at St. Clair sta­tion due to the fire.

Pegg said it was “im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict” when peo­ple would be al­lowed to re­turn to their homes.

The large smoke plumes are caus­ing prob­lems for fire­fight­ers, Pegg said.

“The wind is quite strong and is swirling around,” he said, which could cause sud­den changes in di­rec­tion of the fire.

Pegg said it was far too early to spec­u­late on the cause of the fire, but has said it ap­peared to have be­gun on the sec­ond floor.

“There have been a num­ber of col­lapses in­volv­ing that struc­ture,” he said. “We’ve seen dif­fer­ent seg­ments of the walls be­gin to col­lapse and I fully ex­pect that will con­tinue.”

About 120 fire­fight­ers and more than 40 ve­hi­cles were on scene at Yonge Street and St. Clair Av­enue af­ter be­ing called out around 9:20 a.m.

Pegg called the six-alarm re­sponse to the blaze “un­com­monly large,” say­ing he knew of only two other fires in the city’s his­tory that re­quired a sim­i­lar re­sponse, one of them the Sun­rise Propane ex­plo­sion in 2008 that forced thou­sands of peo­ple from their homes.

JESSE WIN­TER, TORONTO STAR

Toronto fire­fight­ers bat­tle a blaze at Bad­minton and Rac­quet Club of Toronto.

CHRISTO­PHER KATSAROV, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

About 120 fire­fight­ers tack­led Tues­day’s “very, very heavy fire.”

CHRISTO­PHER KATSAROV, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Fire­fight­ers bat­tle a six-alarm fire at a rac­quet club at the in­ter­sec­tion of Yonge Street and St. Clair Av­enue.

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