'We'll soldier on,' says business owner after west end blaze

An investigation is underway into what caused a five-alarm blaze at an industrial building in Toronto's west end Sunday morning.

Crews still on scene of industrial building fire Saturday evening

Smoke billows from an industrial building in the west end as crews work to contain a fire. (Paul Smith/CBC)

The owner of an industrial building that was engulfed in flames on Saturday said his company will "soldier on."

Crews were still on the scene of the smoldering Topper Linen and Uniform Service building Saturday night, after it caught fire that morning. 

Tim Topornicki, the textile rental company's president, told reporters he had no idea what caused the fire. When he arrived at the scene Saturday morning, he said he "just saw smoke and sadness."

The building is on Mulock Avenue in the Junction neighbourhood, near Keele Street and Dundas Street West.

Topornicki said the family business, which was started by his parents in 1956, is "very much" a part of the local community. The business has six buildings on Mulock Avenue.

Tim Topornicki, president of the textile rental business, grew up in the Junction neighbourhood and said he knows local residents well. (CBC)

"It's a mixed residential, industrial neighbourhood, so it's sad for all of us," he said.

"I feel terrible for them, I really do. Mulock has gone through a lot of transition in my time here, the Junction especially."

Topornicki grew up in the Junction neighbourhood, and said the company hosts an annual neighbourhood barbecue on Canada Day. He said residents on the street have been "really, really fantastic."

'We'll get through it'

"It will be OK, we'll get through it ... we're one of the only Canadian laundries that are left in Toronto. It's all-American owned now," said Topornicki.

"We're going to be working very hard around the clock to keep it going. But Topper is a family business and we're going to stay that way. I'm still young!"

25 fire trucks, 100 firefighters

Fire crews were called to what was initially a one-alarm fire at 5:08 a.m. Saturday.

Thirty minutes later, it was upgraded to a three-alarm fire. By 10:30 a.m., it became a five-alarm fire — meaning that at one point, 25 trucks and 100 firefighters were involved in battling the blaze.

Homes on the east and west side of the structure were evacuated for hours as a precaution. No injuries have been reported.

Firefighters got the blaze under control by around 12:45 p.m., and residents were allowed back into their homes after around 1:30 p.m, said Capt. Dave Eckerman, spokesperson for Toronto Fire Services

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said crews stayed on the scene all afternoon, putting out hot spots at the building. 

'Thankfully nobody got hurt'

Topornicki said he received a call early Saturday about the fire.

"It's sad for all of us but thankfully nobody got hurt," he said.

Eckerman said the call came from police officers on patrol who noticed smoke coming from the roof of the two-storey building.

An aerial truck is being used to fight a fire at an industrial building in the west end early Saturday. (Paul Smith/CBC)

The fire was visible from the rear door. When crews arrived, they encountered intense heat and heavy smoke coming from the building, Eckerman said.

"It had heavy flames, large fireloads on the stair," he said.

Fire crews discovered there were holes in the basement floor and they had to put the fire out above first before they could get to the fire below. The fire is believed to have started in the basement.

A foam pumper, which sprays foam that hits and sticks to wood, was used. Eckerman said it is more effective than water because water washes around.

Aerial trucks are involved in fighting the fire and will be there all day. 

Ontario's Office of the Fire Marshal has been notified about the fire, and an investigation is underway into what caused the blaze.

There is no information yet on how much the damage will cost.

Toronto fire crews work to contain a blaze at an industrial building early Saturday. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

With files from Devin Heroux