Arson charges laid after midtown Toronto apartment fire kills pets, displaces residents
Codi Wilson and Joshua Freeman, CTV News Toronto
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018 5:23AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 13, 2018 6:32PM EDT
A 34-year-old man identified as a superintendent at a midtown apartment building is facing multiple charges in connection with an alleged arson that left several pets dead and displaced a number of residents.
Toronto Fire District Chief Stephan Powell said crews were first called to the building, located on Yonge Street north of Davisville Avenue, shortly before 12:30 a.m. for a reported fire.
When crews arrived on scene, firefighters discovered the two-alarm blaze on the second floor of the building.
Reports from the scene suggested some people were trapped inside the building.
According to police, the suspect – the building’s superintendent according to residents -- made a threat to harm pets and start a fire before allegedly setting the apartment ablaze and barricading himself inside.
Fire crews were able to break down the door and rescue the man.
Tenant Eliany Naranjo described a “terrifying” ordeal after the fire started.
"We just heard the fire alarm and we started running and there was smoke everywhere, so we couldn't get out,” she said. “So we just took some towels, we put some water and we tried to get out, but I couldn't. My mom and my roommate, they just went out and that's it.”
Naranjo said her friend heard arguing coming from the superintendent’s unit prior to the fire.
“She just heard some doors slamming, some doors and some screams, that's it,” Naranjo said.
Tenant Andrew Proulx said that he and his fiancé, as well as their pets, made it outdoors, but when he looked up from the sidewalk, he saw two people trapped inside their apartment.
“Literally the scariest thing in my entire life was standing on the sidewalk over there and looking up up at the window on the third floor and seeing two people trapped and pounding on the glass,” Proulx told CTV News Toronto.
He later realized the two people were his fiancé’s sister and her boyfriend. The boyfriend used a fire extinguisher to smash the window. They threw a sweater over the broken glass as a firefighter crawled up a ladder to rescue them.
The building was evacuated and the male suspect was taken to hospital to be treated for minor smoke inhalation.
A number of other people, including one firefighter, were treated on-scene for smoke inhalation but didn’t need to go to hospital.
Several pets died as a result of the fire, police said. Firefighters said a cat died, but police told CTV News Toronto that several pets lived in the suspect’s unit, including a gecko, cats, dogs and a rabbit, and that it wasn’t yet clear how many of them perished.
Four of the neighbouring units are uninhabitable and the Red Cross has been called in to assist displaced residents.
A Toronto Fire investigator will be on scene today and the Office of The Fire Marshal will also be investigating.
Bradley Oliver of Toronto has been charged with arson having disregard for human life; arson causing property damage; uttering threats to cause property damage; uttering threats to harm animals; killing, maiming or wounding animals; mischief over $5000; and assault
Yonge Street was closed in both directions in the area early Tuesday morning but lanes have since reopened.
- With files from Katherine DeClerq