‘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.

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