Residents reeling after suspicious blaze razes homes in east end
Residents of an east-end neighbourhood are in shock after an early morning three-alarm fire totalled several homes on their street.
Officials are probing the suspicious blaze that destroyed an unfinished house and damaged several others Tuesday morning.
The large fire was so strong it melted the siding off a nearby home. Firefighters told CTV Toronto it was a tough fire to take out.
“We had a lot of fire all at once and you could see it was spreading to the other houses,” said District Fire Chief Bill Boyd.
Meanwhile residents of Byng Avenue say they suspect an arsonist is behind the blaze.
Emergency crews were called to the fire located near Danforth and Warden Avenues at around 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
The fire spread to three neighbouring homes and forced the evacuation of eight properties, before it was knocked down at around 7 a.m. No one was injured.
Several residents said that they believe the fire was set deliberately because their properties and cars were doused with gas.
“We saw the gasoline doused all over the car and on the driveway,” said resident Elaine Snels.
Neighbour Kevin Snow said his mother even saw men running through their yard, pouring gas all over their property.
“She saw our back gate open and guys running through our backyard and coming out through our front,” said Snow. “They were pouring gas all over our backyard, our garage.”
Police said they spoke to a “person of interest” in connection to the fire. That person was later released, said Const. Tony Vella.
Resident Thomas Nicholson was questioned by officers Tuesday. He was allowed to leave, but only after he had his clothes taken for forensic testing.
“I rode down to get a coffee at 4 (a.m.). I seen the flames, I didn’t report. I thought it was a bonfire,” said Nicholson. “These people have bonfires all the time and they took me in for questioning.”
Vella said the fire is considered suspicious and the fire marshall is investigating the cause of the blaze.
Investigators are urging residents in the area to check their properties and report anything suspicious to police.
Earlier on Tuesday across town, Toronto fire crews knocked down another fire after a blaze broke out on the porch of a home on Keele Street, near Humberside Avenue.
District Chief Stephan Powell said firefighters had been battling the stubborn blaze since 2 a.m. The fire is believed to have started on the porch and extended into the attic.
Two men managed to escape the burning building and it appears no one was injured.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Austin Delaney