02/05/2016 05:41 EST | Updated 02/05/2016 09:59 EST

Toronto Seniors' Home Fire Leaves 3 Dead, 15 Injured

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Siede Preis via Getty Images
Police Line

TORONTO — Police say three people are dead, and 15 others are being treated in hospital for various injuries following a fire at a seniors' building in Toronto.

Paramedic spokesman Peter Rotolo says four people were taken to hospital in critical condition after the Friday afternoon blaze at a five-storey building on 1315 Neilson Rd., which run by Toronto Community Housing Corp. Three have been pronounced dead.

Rotolo says the residents were taken to hospital after paramedics and firefighters pulled them from apartments on the top floor of the five-storey building.

A fire spokesman says some of the seniors were brought down ladders because the hallways were too full of smoke.

Division commander Bob O'Halloran says the origin of the fire remains under investigation, but notes that much of the damage appeared to have occurred in the fifth-floor hallway.

O'Halloran says most residents were evacuated from the fifth floor but the people in two apartments were "sheltering in place" and were known to be "OK."

"There are two people on the fifth floor, two apartments that it was better to shelter them in place than bring them out through the smoke," he said. "They're being checked on from time to time — they're OK."

O'Halloran said there were challenges in getting people out of the apartments.

"You knock on doors and sometimes people don't hear you, don't answer their door ... if we don't have keys we have to force the doors to make sure people are out of there," he said.

"We forced quite a few doors."

Residents have been allowed to return to apartments on the first four floors.

— With a file from The Huffington Post Canada

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