Crews begin dismantling Queen Street buildings
Toronto police and fire investigators are asking residents to come forward with any information they might have on Wednesday's massive blaze that torched businesses and apartments on Queen Street West.
Authorities want anyone with photos or video of the fire to contact 14 Division or visit the police command post set up at the scene of the devastation, near Bathurst Street.
Officials want to know what tenants saw, smelled or even felt during the raging early-morning fire.
"(This will) help us out in determining whether or not the smoke alarms were functioning, whether or not the lighting system was still in place, their visibility, whether they could feel the heat, whether they felt the doors," Wayne Romaine, of the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office, told reporters.
Crews began their "systemic dismantling" of the burnt-out historic buildings on Friday morning. Officials said they are not demolishing the structures, but taking apart sections at a time and collecting debris that will be analyzed as part of their investigation.
The Fire Marshal' Office says it would take at least a week to determine the cause of the six-alarm fire, which broke out just after 5 a.m. on Wednesday inside the building that houses National Sound, an electronics store. Authorities are treating the area as a crime scene until the source can be determined.
The blaze gutted more than a dozen addresses on the south side of Queen, between Portland and Bathurst Streets. A number of people lost their homes and dozens are without work, but there were no serious injuries.
Damage from the fire could top $10 million, authorities said.
Residents, business owners and passersby watched in disbelief on Friday as crews began taking apart the structures, some of which were built in 1860.
Michael Dubrule, who lived in his upstairs apartment for more than 20 years, was still holding out hope.
"Behind that ladder, that's my (home) and it looks pretty good," he said. "My cameras might have survived, and if I could tell them not to whack it, then maybe we've got some sort of a chance."
Cosmos Records owner Aki Abe was lucky his store and all of its contents survived the blaze, but said the ordeal was tragic for the neighbourhood, which was just recently declared a heritage district.
"It's really sad, it's unbelievably sad," Abe said. "I can't believe this is happening."
The stretch of Queen remains closed to traffic, but could reopen on Saturday afternoon.
With a report from CTV Toronto's MairiAnna Bachynsky