Toronto police have charged a man in connection with two separate downtown fires, including one that prompted the demolition of a Yonge Street heritage building last year.
Insp. Gary Meissner told reporters on Monday afternoon that a male resident was arrested last Friday on an unrelated matter.
That arrest started a process in which officers investigated the suspect's connection to two fires — the blaze that gutted a three-storey building on the southeast corner of Yonge and Gould streets on Jan. 3, 2011, and a fire in a Toronto Community Housing building on Sackville Street last week.
The six-alarm blaze at 335 Yonge Street started at around 4 a.m. ET on Jan. 3, 2011. It took at least four hours to bring the fire under control, and firefighters were still hosing the building down at noon that day.
The building had to be demolished after the fire, leaving several tenants without a home, including the popular Salad King restaurant that has since relocated to the other side of Yonge Street.
Supt. John Tanouye said the blaze caused $3 million in damage. Meissner said the fire put people in the vicinity at risk, as well as the firefighters who responded to the blaze.
"It had a cascading effect, not only on the commerce, on the tourism, on the safety and well-being of individuals frequenting that area, as well as on the fire services and on other emergency personnel that were responding to that fire," Meissner said.
Weeks later, police confirmed that arson was the cause of the six-alarm blaze at 335 Yonge St.
A year after the fire, police revealed they were using 3D technology to build a profile of a suspect who was seen going behind the building several times on the morning that it burned.
Stewart Poirier, 53, of Toronto, faces the following charges:
- Two counts of arson, damage to property
- Two counts of arson, disregard for human life
- Two counts of mischief endangering life
- Attempted murder
- Two counts of fail to comply with probation
He is due to appear in a Toronto court on Thursday.
Police say the investigation into the January 2011 Yonge Street fire is still ongoing.