TORONTO â€” Numerous buildings have been evacuated in midtown Toronto as firefighters try to control a massive and “hazardous” blaze that has closed the streets and billowed smoke over a wide area.
Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said they are in a defensive mode as they try to keep the fire contained to The Badminton and Racquet Club, which is at risk of collapsing completely.
“Everyone in that building that we know that was inside that building is safe and accounted for, so that’s good news,” Pegg said.
“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.”
Parts of the roof of the building have collapsed and forced firefighters to retreat to other buildings and atop ladders.
Capt. David Eckerman said they needed Toronto Water to boost water pressure to help battle the blaze.
About 120 firefighters and more than 40 vehicles are on scene at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue after being called out around 9:20 a.m.
“This is a very difficult and very hazardous fire fight for our crews,” Pegg said, adding he is worried 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 have been brought in to shelter people who have had to leave their homes and said subway trains are not stopping at St. Clair station due to the fire.
Pegg said the large smoke plumes are causing problems for firefighters.
“The wind is quite strong and is swirling around,” he said, which could cause sudden changes in direction of the fire.
Pegg said it is far too early to speculate on the cause of the fire, but has said it appeared to have begun on the second floor.
He also warned people to stay away from the area, which is closed to traffic.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press