1 man dead, 2 others badly injured, about 20 displaced after fire in downtown Toronto

One man is dead and two others are injured after a fire at a mid-rise building in downtown Toronto, firefighters say.

Man, 40, died in hospital, 1 man still in life-threatening condition, 3rd man's condition improving

The fire started in a third-floor unit. (Chris Mulligan/CBC)

One man is dead and two others were badly injured after a fire at a mid-rise building in downtown Toronto, firefighters say.

One of the victims remains in life-threatening condition, while the other is showing signs of improvement, acting Fire Chief Jim Jessop told reporters in an update near the scene on Tuesday.

The blaze displaced about 20 people, he said.  Between 80 and 100 firefighters responded to the call. 

"They were met with a heavy wall of smoke. The unit of origin is completely gutted. That shows you how intense the fire was. The third floor hallway has been impacted with significant heat and smoke," Jessop said.

Emergency crews were called to the six-storey building near the corner of Dundas Street East and Sherbourne Street shortly after 1 a.m. on Tuesday.

The fire broke out in a unit on the third floor. Firefighters came across several residents trying to get out of the building in near zero visibility conditions caused by thick smoke, Jessop said.

At least three men were taken to hospital. A 40-year-old man was pronounced dead there. A 70-year-old and a third man of unknown age were critically injured. Jessop said the condition of the third man is moving toward stable. Several people were also treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

The fire displaced about 20 people who live in this building at the corner of Dundas Street East and Sherbourne Street. (Chris Mulligan/CBC)

"The firefighters this morning literally fought their way down through a hallway without any visibility, were coming across individuals in the hallway that were trying to self-evacuate, that were completely overcome with smoke. The firefighters were at one point passing one victim to another to get them to safety," Jessop said.

Firefighters got to the unit where the flames broke out and quickly put them out, he added.

Earlier, Jessop said: "This could have been a lot of worse."

Most residents of the building have since been allowed to return to their units, however the third floor and parts of the fourth floor are uninhabitable, he said. The city's office of emergency management is working with the Canadian Red Cross to find shelter for residents displaced from their homes.

The TTC provided buses to shelter residents overnight.

The Ontario Fire Marshal and Toronto Fire Services are trying to find the cause of the blaze, Jessop said, and the investigation is expected to take several days.