TORONTO — A massive fire that ripped through a Toronto athletic club and forced the evacuation of six buildings in a busy neighbourhood was extinguished early Wednesday, nearly a full day after it began.
Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said firefighters put out the blaze at The Badminton and Racquet Club around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday, but he noted that crews would likely still have to deal with expected "hot spots" and "flare ups" throughout the day.
No one was seriously injured as more than 100 firefighters at any given time battled the raging fire that sent smoke billowing over a large area of midtown Toronto.
Part of the club's roof collapsed along with a number of other "partial collapses," Pegg said. Heavy excavation equipment was brought to the site at one point to knock down walls so that firefighters could get to the "seat" of the blaze.
"There is an extraordinary amount of damage there...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, clean-up 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.
Hydro and natural gas lines remain 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.
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.
Subway service has resumed service at the neighbourhood's local station, which was being bypassed yesterday.
Yonge Street, a major nearby thoroughfare, remained closed in both directions at St. Clair Avenue, but streetcar service had resumed, according to the Toronto Transit Commission.