Three firefighters were taken to hospital this morning after a close call in a blazing west-end townhouse. 

Fire broke out in the Perth Avenue home, near Lansdowne Avenue and Dupont Street, around 8 a.m. The house was soon engulfed in flames and, as firefighters searched the building, the main floor collapsed, leaving them trapped in the basement. 

They escaped with help from their captain, who hung from a doorframe, acting as a human ladder.

Fire broke out in the Perth Avenue home, near Lansdowne Avenue and Dupont Street, around 8 a.m. The house was soon engulfed in flames. (Linda Ward/CBC)

“I just had the one arm, so I reached down and started pulling them toward me,” Acting Capt. David Mergelas told CBC News. 

“I pushed the first person up over me, they climbed on me and I helped them up, because I needed them to pull me out.” 

Mergelas and the second firefighter pulled out the third, who had injured her leg in the fall. All three are expected to recover. 

The homeowner was not in at the time. Neighbouring homes were evacuated and no one was seriously hurt. 

The cause of the three-alarm blaze is under investigation. Firefighters on the scene said hoarding or “excess storage” in the house may have contributed to the exceptionally hot fire. 

But others later blamed the house itself. In a statement the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters' Association said the blaze "exemplified the hazards of new construction." 

"The lightweight construction, so common now in new homes, condos, and townhomes, fails very quickly under fire conditions," the group said. 

Damage is estimated at $200,000. 

With files from Natalie Kalata