Toronto

'Don't climb the bluffs': Busy weekend of rescues on Scarborough Bluffs

Toronto Fire Services is urging people not to climb the Scarborough Bluffs after a demanding and dangerous rescue mission Sunday afternoon.

Crews faced demanding, dangerous rescue mission on Sunday

It took more than two and a half hours to rescue the second of two women who got trapped on the Scarborough Bluffs Sunday afternoon. (John Hanley/CBC)

Toronto Fire Services is urging people not to climb the Scarborough Bluffs after a demanding and dangerous rescue mission Sunday afternoon.

Five firefighters spent more than two and a half hours on ropes rescuing two women who got trapped near the peak of a formation, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg told CBC Toronto.

"This is literally one of the most demanding and challenging technical rescues I've ever witnessed," said Pegg after the second woman had been secured in a rescue harness.

One of two women trapped on the Scarborough Bluffs on Sunday. (CBC)

He said the rescuers had to use ice picks to help them get up, and they were moving vertically and horizontally to secure the climbers.

It took more than an hour and 45 minutes to rescue the first person and closer to three hours for the second, after Toronto Fire got the call around 2:30 Sunday afternoon, said District Chief Stephan Powell.

It was a "dangerous" rescue, he added. The winds were high, and the climbers were on a very steep part of the bluffs.

Several rescue missions this summer

It was a busy weekend for rescues on the bluffs. Fire crews rescued another two people who tried to climb the bluffs on Saturday. 

While trying to climb down, sand was sliding away under their feet and the hikers realized they were stuck, Powell said. Firefighters were able to secure them using a safety harness and guide them safely down, he said.

Climbing the bluffs is dangerous and rescue missions are a significant drain on resources, Toronto Fire officials said Sunday. (CBC)

Powell said crews have had to rescue a number of people from the bluffs this summer.

"I don't know why we keep having to do this," said Pegg. 

"There is nothing safe about trying to climb these bluffs, yet they continue to do it."

"It could definitely be a critical injury falling over the bluffs," said Powell who added that some people fall and break legs or hit their heads.

"I can't overemphasize that people need to stay off the bluffs."

'Significant' drain on resources

The rescue missions also require a lot of resources. There are numerous firefighters at these calls, said Powell, and a rapid intervention team to help the firefighters should they get into trouble. 

Pegg said there were eight trucks on the scene on Sunday.

Crews spent more than two and a half hours on ropes Sunday afternoon, after two people got trapped on a formation. (John Hanley/CBC)

"There's a significant drain on resources, there's a significant risk to our rescuers, and there's a significant risk to the public," said Pegg, adding the two women are "very fortunate" to be safe.

"Don't climb the bluffs."

Falling from the bluffs could lead to critical injuries, said District Chief Stephan Powell. (John Hanley/CBC)