Crews battle massive fire in Toronto
Uncommonly large blaze threatened condo building
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.
Toronto firefighters battle a blaze at Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto.
About 120 firefighters tackled Tuesday’s “very, very heavy fire.”
Firefighters battle a six-alarm fire at a racquet club at the intersection of Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue.