Over 60 residents displaced after fire inside downtown TCHC building
Published Friday, February 10, 2017 3:36PM EST Last Updated Friday, February 10, 2017 6:44PM EST
Following a fire in a downtown Toronto Community Housing Corp. building, more than 60 residents have been displaced from their homes.
The fire broke out inside a fourth-floor apartment at around 5:45 p.m. on Thursday evening at George and Gerrard streets. One person was pronounced dead and four others were taken to a local hospital for treatment.
The Red Cross brought in 14 volunteers to come and assist those who have been displaced from their unit.
“We’ve opened an emergency shelter for 36 individuals,” media relations advisor for the Red Cross Jennifer Oullette told CP24.
“It’s February, it’s very cold so our priority was getting people into shelter and out of the cold. We also have 30 people who have been moved into two hotel buildings.”
Ouellette said The Red Cross’ priority is meeting the needs of the people who have been displaced.
“(We are) making sure they have food, making sure they have a warm place to stay,” she said. “We are working very closely to make sure that everyone who has been impacted by this fire gets the assistance that they need.”
Mayor John Tory visited a community centre being used as an emergency shelter on Friday. There he told CP24 that crews are working to allow residents back into their homes.
“The hope is that people who live in the first three floors will be back by the end of the day,” he said.
However, an investigator with the Fire Marshal’s Office Manny Garcia told CP24 that residents living on the upper floors may not be able to move back into their units for a few days.
“It’s early in the investigation,” Garcia said. “There is a fair amount of damage on the fourth floor and that is certainly something we will be addressing as the investigation moves along, keeping in mind that right now we are in the process of recovering the remains.”
Garcia said there were minimal additional injuries because people were told to remain inside of their units and refrain from entering the hallways of the building.
“These buildings are designed so if there is a fire within the unit, it is kept within that unit as long as the door is closed,” he said. “The building performed as designed, people stayed in their units as opposed to stepping out to the hallway where they encounter smoke ignitions and try to leave and they never make it out.”
Despite the displacement, residents received some good news from Garcia, who said there is a very good chance that everyone’s possessions will still be in tact as smoke damage outside of the burning unit was minimal.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office. As well, Toronto Community Housing Corp. is conducting their own investigation.