The victim who passed away after being critically injured in a massive fire in downtown Toronto on March 4th has been identified by neighbours as 22-year-old William Secord Mattson. Mattson died on Monday after a fire tore through a downtown Toronto building at 160 Bathurst Street early yesterday morning.
The basement fire rapidly spread throughout the building on Monday morning, eventually reaching "five-alarm" status. Before firefighters courageously battled the blaze, they arrived on the scene and were met with billowing clouds of heavy black smoke.
Neither the freezing cold temperatures nor the scorching red flames that projected from the top of the building's roof stopped Toronto Fire from combating the blaze. Matthew Pegg, Toronto Fire Chief, described the fire to be “difficult” and “intense” to extinguish.
The massive blaze started in the basement of a building near Richmond on Bathurst in the early morning hours of March 4th. Mattson and another victim were pulled from the burning building and rushed to hospital. Sadly, 22-year-old Mattson succumbed to his injuries. The second victim remains in serious condition and is being kept in hospital until further notice.
According to a CTV News Toronto report, Christine Whittick, a neighbour, commented "I can tell you that we know the family. I saw William around quite frequently. It’s a wonderful family, they’re a hardworking part of our community."
She explained “His stepdad, Adam, ran the barber shop next door… They were basically just trying to take care of their son, contribute to the community and run their business.”
It wasn't until late morning that Toronto Fire controlled the rapidly-spreading fire, but by that time, it had already destroyed nearby buildings, including a long-time barbershop that members of the community consider a "neighbourhood staple".
Tragic fire today at Bathurst and Richmond, Toronto pic.twitter.com/nVcT4MYk5q— Mark Wilson (@markAcorn) March 5, 2019
“It escalated and grew very, very quickly,” Chief Pegg remarked to CP24. “When we’re in the downtown core like this and in an urban environment where the exposures are so tight, it becomes a real challenge for us.”
The cause of the fire is currently unknown. Investigators with both Toronto Fire Services and the Ontario Fire Marshal have been actively investigating the fire's source.