Toronto

Fireworks not involved in causing massive Cherry Street recycling plant fire

Toronto police issued a new release Sunday night saying that fireworks set off adjacent to a Cherry Street recycling plant did not cause a massive fire that engulfed the building last Thursday.

Toronto police initially said fireworks landed in recycling plant moments before fire engulfed the building

Damage is estimated to be as high as $20 million, Toronto police said. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Fireworks that were set off near a waterfront Toronto recycling plant were not involved in causing a massive fire that engulfed the building last Thursday, Toronto police said in a release issued Friday evening. 

Earlier on Friday, police said the fireworks landed on the recycling plant property, but later issued the second release saying the fireworks were not the cause.

Instead, they said they would like to speak to the people lighting the fireworks as possible witnesses. 

The fire started shortly before 12:57 a.m. on Thursday, May 25 at 242 Cherry Street, near Lake Shore Boulevard East. Police say the damage is estimated to be as high as $20 million. 

Police say two vehicles, a black pickup truck and a white sedan, were seen fleeing the area.

 
More than 500 firefighters were involved in fighting the fire over three days. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

The cause of the fire has to be determined by Toronto Fire Services investigators, Const David Hopkinson of Toronto police said. 

"There are any number of scenarios, but the fact that two vehicles were seen leaving the area, that strikes us as suspicious," he said.

"We don't know the cause yet. That's up to investigators but we would like more information from the public."

 
A still image from a security camera video released by Toronto police. (Toronto Police Service)

Captain David Eckerman, spokesperson for Toronto Fire Services, said the case is still under investigation.

Eckerman said fire investigators are continuing to review evidence collected from the scene and to conduct interviews with witnesses.

He declined to comment further on the Toronto police news release.

The fire burned for three days, caused major structural damage to the building and sent smoke drifting deep into the city. At one point, the roof of the building collapsed.

Eckerman said the fire was brought under control by the evening of May 25. But firefighters remained on the scene until 8:22 a.m. on May 28. At around 5 a.m. on May 28, he said fire crews were still applying water to the smouldering structure. 
Firefighters left the scene of the fire on May 28 at 8:22 a.m. The fire started on May 25 at 12:57 a.m. (Fire Chief Matthew Pegg/Twitter)

More than 500 firefighters were involved over the three days, he said.

It is not known when fire investigators will release the official cause.

"You literally have burning rubble. It's like a needle in a haystack to find the cause," he said.

The building is a solid waste transfer station run by Green For Life Environmental Inc.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-5500, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). 

With files from Hailey Salvian