‘Like a bomb went off,’ official says of fire scene
TORONTO — Many residents remain out of their homes in the aftermath of an enormous fire that ripped through a Toronto athletic club.
Tuesday’s fire forced the evacuation of six buildings in the busy midtown neighbourhood, but Toronto Fire deputy chief Jim Jessop and a city spokeswoman said some residents might be able to return to the buildings by Wednesday night.
After inspecting the remnants of The Badminton and Racquet Club, Jessop said it “looks like a bomb went off.”
The blaze started shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday and wasn’t extinguished until nearly 6 a.m. Wednesday, and Jessop called the damage “astronomical,” but added the fire wasn’t considered suspicious.
Firefighters continue to battle “a few hot spots” and the cleanup is underway, he said.
No one was seriously injured as more than 100 firefighters battled the raging fire that sent smoke billowing over a large area of the city.
Part of the club’s roof collapsed along with a number of other “partial collapses,” said Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg. Heavy excavation equipment was brought to the site Tuesday night to knock down walls so that firefighters could get to the “seat” of the blaze.
“I highly doubt there’s going to be a lot of salvageable building left there,” Pegg said.
Still, the chief called the “defensive operation” against the fire a success.
“Our crews were able to prevent a very large fire from spreading into the adjoining structures and that was our number one goal after we had secured the safety of residents and firefighters,” Pegg said.
Only four people needed emergency shelter overnight as everyone else found a place to stay with friends and family, he said, adding he’s unsure how many people have been displaced by the fire.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, he said, including one twisted ankle.
With the blaze put out, cleanup efforts can begin, Pegg said.
The first priority is dealing with the large volume of water that has run off and seeped into nearby buildings and hydro vaults as a result of fighting the fire.
Electricity and natural gas remains shut off and air quality has to be tested in numerous buildings, Pegg said. “It’s going to take us a little more time,” he said.
The Office of the Fire Marshal was expected to begin its investigation into the incident Wednesday, but Pegg noted that it was still too early to know what had caused the fire.