Power and water to remain shut off for two days at downtown high-rise
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, January 22, 2019 5:33PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 22, 2019 11:06PM EST
Power and water have been shut off at a private residential high-rise in St. James Town after a burst pipe caused damage to the building’s electric room, but Toronto Fire is not forcing any evacuations.
“Given the time of day, given the number of occupants of the building, we believe that for a short term, we can make the building safe,” Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop said at the scene Tuesday night.
The issue at 260 Wellesley Street East was first reported early Tuesday afternoon. It is unclear what caused the pipe to burst.
According to Jessop, it is “not safe” at this moment to energize the building, nor is it possible to bring in generators because ventilating them is problematic.
Jessop said emergency crews will remain on scene all night. He also said building management has been instructed to bring in extra security personnel to conduct “welfare checks.”
“I am confident that the measures we have put in place will keep the people protected,” Jessop added.
The city’s Office of Emergency Management is involved in the effort.
Danny Roth, a spokesperson for building management said they expect the disruption to last “about 48 hours.”
“It’s too early right now to try to figure out the cause of this,” he said. “I have no idea … how long we’re going to be in this state.”
Mayor John Tory, who attended the scene on Tuesday evening, said water to flush toilets, drinking water and food will be made available to residents who are staying inside.
“The building is still habitable,” he said, but added that people need to be aware that “there will be no light or heat in the building.”
City spokesperson Brad Ross said the Wellesley Community Centre will serve as a temporary warming centre for residents.
Officials said any residents who need help or experience problems are being encouraged to call 911.
As the situation unfolded Tuesday afternoon, residents said, they were left in the dark for hours about what was going on. Speaking with CP24 outside the building, one resident who lives on the 15th floor said that she is unsure what to do and has received no guidance from the property management company.
“I am just standing here waiting to see what happens,” she said. “There is nobody here to answer anything.”
Another resident who returned home from work to find the building in darkness told CP24 that he is “frustrated, angry and disappointed” with the lack of communication from management.
“I have been looking for information from anyone. I can’t find it. I went to the management office, I tried calling them, nothing,” he said.
The 33-storey building is managed by the same company that is responsible for an apartment building on Parliament Street that was the site of a massive electrical fire in August 2018.
That fire displaced 1,500 residents and those people have not yet been able to move back into their units.
On Twitter, Ward 13 city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said that her “heart goes out” to residents displaced by the Parliament Street fire who may now be staying at 260 Wellesley Street East and “reliving trauma.”
Speaking to reporters at the scene, she confirmed 26 former residents of the Parliament Street building are currently living in the Wellesley high-rise.