Toronto’s west end has become shrouded in a cloud of smoke. Footage of the York Memorial fire shows the dire circumstances of the ongoing situation unfolding in the city’s Eglinton West area on Tuesday. Homes and schools have been evacuated as fire crews struggle to contain a massive six-alarm inferno tearing though York Memorial Collegiate Institute.
According to a report by CP24, firefighters have gone door-to-door telling residents to evacuate the area. Homes and businesses on the south side of Eglington Avenue are being evacuated as the thick clouds of smoke trailing off of the blaze become a growing threat to safety.
“Our principal focus now in collaboration with the police is making sure that we’re implementing the necessary evacuations out of an abundance of caution to keep people safe,” Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg explained to CP24.
Conditions have become so severe that TTC buses have been brought in to help shelter those who have had to flee their homes. Several nearby schools are also being evacuated - Silverthorn CS and Keelsdale JPS, George Harvey CI have all been emptied as a precaution. All of York Memorial's staff and students were sent to nearby George Harvey on Tuesday morning before everyone was sent home.
Mayor Tory stated on Tuesday morning that fire crews are merely suggesting that residents leave the area. However, if the situation continues to grow worse, residents will be given a mandatory order to evacuate the area.
“If there are still people at home in the areas where the fire department has been going door to door to ask them to leave their homes I would hope that they would heed that advice,” Tory stated. “It is advice only but it is advice that is being offered quite strongly by the authorities because it is their view that the smoke and the direction which the smoke is going mostly to the south poses a potential hazard for people.”
Emergency crews were first called to the scene yesterday at around 2:00 PM after receiving reports of a three-alarm fire. Toronto Fire managed to contain that blaze at around 4:00 PM, however, a thermal imaging camera spotted a flare-up at some point during the night.
"Once that was detected around 3:24 AM this morning, a second alarm was immediately called," Toronto Fire Capt. David Eckerman stated to CP24. According to Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, the second blaze was "significant" and "complicated" and is seemingly unrelated to the fire that started yesterday.