Firefighters probe blaze that destroyed part of downtown heritage building

Toronto fire officials have begun to investigate the cause of an overnight 3-alarm fire in a heritage property downtown on Saturday.

The heritage house is more than 100 years old, according to Toronto Fire officials

The blaze eventually reached three-alarm status, meaning a significant number of resources were deployed to fight it. (John Hanley/CBC)

Toronto fire officials have begun to investigate the cause of a three-alarm fire in a heritage property downtown overnight on Saturday.

The fire in the vacant house at 124 Peter St, near Richmond Street West, slightly injured one firefighter, according to Toronto paramedics. The firefighter was treated at the scene and released.

Heavy equipment is being brought to the scene to aid investigators in their search of the four-storey house, Capt. Michael Westwood told CBC Toronto. The equipment will clear debris to ensure officials can investigate safely, without fear that walls or ceilings will collapse, he added.

"I understand that the building is apparently a heritage site, so the fire crews will try to do as minimal damage to the building as possible during their work," he said. "It's over 100 years. It's a century building."

The house, built in 1871, is listed on the city's heritage register. The house is part of the King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District, the register says. 
Part of the roof of the building collapsed. (John Hanley/CBC)

Fire officials will search the charred premises to ensure no one was squatting inside and was injured, he said.

Flames destroyed most of the roof and upper floors of the house, but from the street, the facade of the house appears intact. 

Westwood said Toronto Fire received a call about smoke in the building at 12:36 a.m. About 70 firefighters and 17 fire trucks responded to the call. The blaze was considered a three-alarm fire.

When firefighters arrived at the scene, heavy smoke and flames were visible, Westwood said. Crews fought the fire using two aerial towers, he added. 

It took firefighters more than two hours to put the fire. 
A Toronto firefighter on a ladder stands close to grey smoke pouring out of vacant house downtown early Saturday. The house is a heritage property, built in 1871. (John Hanley/CBC)

"Flames got up through the roof and there was a partial roof collapse. It appears to be an abandoned building," Westwood said.  

The fire was extinguished at 2:52 a.m., but crews were at the scene Saturday morning, monitoring hotspots.

Toronto Fire did not give an estimate of the damage to the house, but Westwood said it was extensive.

Most of the roof was destroyed, as well as the uppermost floors.

A notice board on the house says the building is the subject of a development application for a 46-storey residential tower.

It is not known if water, smoke and flames damaged businesses on either side of the building. 
About 70 firefighters and 17 fire trucks responded to the call. (John Hanley/CBC)

With files from Muriel Draaisma