Toronto

More than 1,000 displaced by Parliament Street fire may be out for 'several months'

Toronto's fire chief says it may be "several months" before approximately 1,500 people can return to their apartments in a downtown building that was hit by a fire earlier this week.

Preliminary cause of fire is major failure of building's electrical distribution system

Residents of a Parliament Street highrise are being told they will not be able to return their homes for several months after a fire hit the building earlier this week. (Rob Krbavac/CBC)

Toronto's fire chief says it may be "several months" before approximately 1,500 people can return to their apartments in a downtown building that was hit by a fire earlier this week.

Matthew Pegg says the preliminary cause of the fire is a major failure of the building's electrical distribution system, which he says suffered significant damage.

Four people were injured on Tuesday as firefighters evacuated the building after the six-alarm fire cut electricity and sent smoke through the tower.

Residents look on as smoke can be seen coming out of an apartment building on Parliament Street, just south of Bloor Street East, on Tuesday. ( Robert Krbavac/CBC)

Mayor John Tory says many residents are with family and friends and the city has found more than 260 hotel and Airbnb units to accommodate others who had been staying in community centres.

Tory also says the city will be providing transit passes and food vouchers to the displaced residents.

'No electricity in the building at all,' chief warns

Pegg told a news conference that, so far, investigators have found minimal damage to apartments and expected to be able to return control of the building to the owners by Thursday evening so that damage assessment and repairs can begin.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg speaks to reporters on Thursday. He says it may be "several months" before approximately 1,500 people can return to their Parliament Street apartment after it was hit by a fire earlier this week. (Rob Krbavac/CBC)

"There is literally no electricity in the building at all," Pegg said Thursday. "That means no lights, no elevators, no fire protection systems."

The damage will require "very significant" repairs before residents can return, Pegg said.

"In my experience ... damage of this significance to the building's electrical system often requires several months for the repairs to be completed," he said.

'I'm panicking,' says displaced resident

Resident Humera Mahamed has been separated from her son, with both of them staying at friends' houses while they wait to get back into the highrise.

She arrived home from a holiday on Tuesday to see her apartment up in smoke.

Resident Humera Mahamed is staying at a friend's house while she waits to get back into her home. She is separated from her son, who is staying at a different friend's house in the city. (Rob Krbavac/CBC)

"I'm panicking, because I forgot my passport," Mahamed told CBC Toronto, while she waited outside the building to gather a few things from her apartment on Thursday.

She said she is dreading the time she will have to be living away from her home.

"A couple weeks is a lot, even two days is a lot," she said. "It's long time for me."

With files from CBC News

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