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Fire evacuees expected to return home Wednesday: officials

Feb. 16, 2017, Toronto -  Residents of a condominium that was evacuated during a fire that caused “astronomical” damage at a nearby Toronto athletic facility were expected to return to their homes on Wednesday night, the city’s deputy fire chief said.

February 16, 2017 
By The Canadian Press

“At this stage there are no longer any fire concerns,” Jim Jessop told an afternoon news conference at the site of Tuesday’s fire that destroyed The Badminton and Racquet Club. “It is going to be up to their management company to make sure the building cleaned and corrected and restored according to code.”

Some of the suites in the 87-unit building would continue to be used by firefighters to monitor the fire site, Jessop said.

The area will smell of smoke for a while, Jessop said, but he added that air monitoring has been done and “there is absolutely no risk from a health or fire perspective.”

He said residents and business operators in some lowrise buildings near the fire site may be unable to return until part of a wall of the athletic club is removed.


“We do have some concerns about one of the walls of the fire structure that is unstable, so there will be a couple of orders prohibiting occupancy for a few of the businesses,” Jessop said.

He said water was being pumped from the basement of another of the six buildings that were evacuated during the fire.

The blaze started shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday and wasn’t extinguished until nearly 6 a.m. Wednesday.

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.

The site of the athletic club at the centre of the fire “looks like a bomb went off,” Jessop said, noting that firefighters were still “dousing a few hot spots,” and still using heavy equipment to take apart the athletic club “to make sure that we fully extinguish the fire.”

He called the damage caused by the blaze “astronomical,” but said it wasn’t considered suspicious.

Jessop also said the building was “up to code.”

Part of the club’s roof collapsed along with a number of other “partial collapses,” said Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg.

“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.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, he said, including one twisted ankle.

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.

The Badminton and Racquet Club said in an email to club members that “the fire appears to have originated in the main lounge.”

Chief operating officer Paul Cadieux thanked members and staff “for their quick action” to help clear the building.

An electrical fire in the men’s sauna room destroyed the entire men’s locker room in 2009, according to the club’s website.

Subway service has resumed service at the neighbourhood’s local station, which was being bypassed on Tuesday.

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