First tenants return to Toronto high rise after fire
Published Saturday, October 2, 2010 6:30PM EDT
The first wave of those left homeless by a six-alarm fire at a Toronto apartment building were welcomed home on Saturday, while many more remain displaced by last week's disaster.
More than 1,200 people were forced from their home at 200 Wellesley Street East on September 24, when a fire in a 24th floor unit launched a building-wide evacuation.
Since then they have been staying with family, friends and at a local community centre.
Two-hundred families were invited home on Saturday, but residents of the building's north tower will have to wait a while longer, as safety inspections continue.
One man told CTV News that he was warned the wait could be as long as six months.
Toronto Community Housing would not speculate on how long the clean up could take, but said they were letting tenants return home as it became safe to do so.
"There was a lot of water that we had to remove; there was dehumidification and also a tremendous amount of soot was along the corridor areas. That needed to be cleaned up," Mitzie Hunter, Toronto Community Housing's chief administrative officer, told those gathered at the building on Saturday.
Fred Lalley was able to return home and said he was surprised to find his 4th floor apartment in decent shape.
"We are one of the lucky ones that were able to get in on the floors," Lalley told CTV News. "There is no damage up there; it just smells a little bit."
Elsewhere in the building, some tenants were not as lucky. "Fitsum" said his 29th floor apartment still reeked of smoke from the blaze, which needed 120 firefighters and 27 trucks to put out.
"I took my kids to the next building, to stay at my friend's home. They can't breathe, its not clean," he said.
Toronto Community Housing said the residents of 140 more apartments in the complex's south tower are expected to return home on Sunday.
Their website www.torontohousing.ca will be updated as more units become ready.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Sneha Kulkarni