Business owners in the area of Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue are singing the praises of the Toronto firefighters and emergency service workers who battled the six-alarm blaze that destroyed the Badminton and Racquet Club on Tuesday, crediting them with saving their livelihoods.
"Honestly, they've done a fantastic job — a fantastic job," said Bill Koutroubis, co-owner of the Holy Chuck burger restaurant at 1450 Yonge St. "I haven't seen such a turnout and such coordination between emergency services, the police department and the firefighters. A fantastic job."
Jeff May, owner of Scallywags Bar at 11 St. Clair Ave. W, was also grateful to emergency service workers.
"They saved the southwest corner of Yonge and St. Clair — in particular they saved my business, which means all my employees still have jobs," said May.
"I was here last night watching the hard work of the [firefighters]. It was really unbelievable, and they were exhausted and they just didn't give up, and they saved my business, so they saved my life, basically."
Damage sets business owners back
Ben Rafael, owner of Kiva's Bagel Bar at 15 St. Clair Ave. W, said his business suffered some water damage from the fire-fighting effort, but "nothing major." He hopes to reopen his business on Friday morning.
"I found the fire department, Toronto Hydro, and the police to be very, very professional," said Rafael. "They really took control of the corner."
Other business owners face more significant damage. Sat Chouhan, owner of The Bagel House at 1438 Yonge St., said he'll need to hire professional cleaners after firefighters dragged their hoses through his business.
"It was a lot of water, a lot of mud there. All my equipment in the basement — almost everything is gone," said Chouhan. "It is worse than I thought."
Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop said the "devastation is enormous," but pointed out that fire crews had found no structural damage to adjacent buildings.
"It's absolutely the result of the work our staff did yesterday," he said on Wednesday.
Displaced residents returning home
Toronto Fire officials said evacuees in the area surrounding the massive fire are expected to be allowed back into their buildings later on Wednesday.
There is no estimate for the number of people displaced by the fire, Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said Wednesday morning.
All but four of the displaced residents were able to find their own accommodations and the city stepped in to assist the others, he added.
The nearby VCA Canada Rosedale Animal Hospital also offered free accommodation for people's pets until they're allowed back home.
Toronto fire says no noted structural damage to any adjacent blogs after midtown fire. Evacuees expected back in later today pic.twitter.com/4P7To4HC58— @LindaWardCBC
Fire under control since early Wednesday
The fire at the Badminton and Racquet Club building has been under control since 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Jessop.
Tuesday's six-alarm fire at 25 St. Clair Avenue West led to road closures, TTC diversions and the shutdown of the St. Clair subway station.
St. Clair Avenue was reopened between Avenue Road and Yonge Street on Wednesday evening.
Two firefighters received minor injuries while battling the fire, but no civilians were injured.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, but it's believed to have started in a mechanical room.