Apartment fire forces residents, pets out of homes
Chris Kitching, cp24.com
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:47AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:17PM EST
More than 100 residents of a high-rise building in downtown Toronto may be out of their homes for days due to an early-morning fire in a hydro vault.
Tenants were forced to leave because the building, which is a mix of residential and commercial space, will be without electricity as hydro crews repair the damage, and the repairs may take days to complete, a fire official said at the scene.
"Right now there are some heavy duty pumps that are pumping water out of the basement and into an open sewer," Captain Mike Strapko told CP24 Wednesday evening. "We estimate there to be about 260,000 gallons of water and best case scenario it will take about three hours to get it all out of there and then we will have to get electrical contractors in there to fix things up."
Residents are being offered temporary shelter if they have nowhere to go while they are displaced from their homes.
Yonge Street reopened
The three-alarm fire broke out at about 5 a.m. when water from a broken water main poured into a basement containing the hydro vault and a backup power generator. It took several hours to pump out the water.
Toronto Fire Services said it asked residents to remain in their suites and stay out of smoke-filled stairwells or halls in the complex at Yonge Street and Davenport Road.
There were safety concerns because a power outage plunged the stairwells into darkness and the elevators were not functioning, a fire official said. The power outage affected at least one building across the street.
Later, emergency personnel went door-to-door and asked residents to vacate the building. Firefighters had to physically carry at least three residents down the stairs because each person has mobility issues.
TTC buses were brought in to provide emergency shelter as people figured out where to go from there.
The complex's ground level is home to Veterinary Emergency Clinic, where several pets were being kept. After firefighters went through the clinic, a fire official said all of the animals are OK.
No injuries were reported.
Water had been shut off to nearby residents following the incident, however water was turned back on at around 12:30 p.m.
Officials are urging residents to let their water run for some time before drinking it, as it will be dirty at first.
Yonge Street was closed north of Davenport Road to Belmont Street for much of the day as a result.
It reopened shortly after 7 p.m.
With files from CP24 reporter Cam Woolley
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