Toronto

Crews battle 5-alarm fire at Agincourt Recreation Centre in Scarborough

Crews battled a five-alarm fire at the Agincourt Recreation Centre in Scarborough on Thursday night as heavy smoke blanketed the building and flames shot high up in the roof.

Fire burned for hours as firefighters work to thaw frozen equipment

By Thursday night, firefighters were attacking the flames from two ladders as additional crews were brought in as replacements. (Adrian Cheung/CBC)

Crews battled a five-alarm fire at the Agincourt Recreation Centre in Scarborough on Thursday night as heavy smoke  blanketed the building and flames shot high up in the roof.

Approximately 30 fire trucks were at the scene in the Glen Watford Drive and Rural Avenue area, according to Toronto Fire Captain Stephan Powell. 

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg says firefighters isolated pool and arena chemicals but the conditions were "extremely demanding." The frigid temperatures are proving challenging, he said, with firefighters having to thaw out equipment by bringing it onboard TTC shelter buses.

At the fire's peak, 130 firefighters and 37 vehicles were involved in the effort to contain the blaze. (CBC)

Emergency crews were called to the area around 4:45 p.m. for reports that a fire had broken out in the centre's mechanical room. There's no word yet on the exact origin, Powell said.

The building was evacuated and no injuries were reported.

Daniel Zilisch, a Scarborough resident, told CBC Toronto he was at the centre to go skating with his son when they heard the alarm.

"We thought it was just some kid or something, but then we looked at the roof of the place and it was smoking," Zilisch said.

"Everybody was trying to get out of there as fast as they could. Lifeguards were in swimsuits coming out wet," he added.

After making it out, Zilisch said he decided to stay at the scene for a while so that people might have a warm car to get into.

Fire crews were expected to be at the scene all night to monitor the situation.

Meanwhile, the Toronto District School Board said students at the nearby Alexander Mackenzie Secondary Public School will be relocated to Agincourt Collegiate Institute Friday.

The City of Toronto recreation centre is one of two leisure pools in Scarborough, and is also home to a number of local sports clubs. The centre also houses two indoor ice rinks and a Snoezelen Room — a special multi-sensory environment designed for people with disabilities. 

In a tweet, city spokesperson Brad Ross said the centre is the second busiest in Scarborough after the Pan Am Sports Centre, with nearly 3,000 registrations in the winter session for more than 400 courses.

"Needless to say, all activities at the Agincourt Community Centre are cancelled," he said Thursday night. Anyone looking for information about programs and upcoming events is asked to call 311.

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