Toronto

Mayor calls for help for more than 1000 residents displaced by highrise fire

Response team coordinating temporary shelter for residents through gtareponse@redcross.ca

Anyone who can temporarily house displaced residents should email gtaresponse@redcross.ca, Tory urges

Toronto firefighters were called to deal with a blaze at a highrise apartment building on Parliament Street on Tuesday afternoon. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

Mayor John Tory is asking Torontonians to help shelter residents of a highrise on Parliament Street after a fire blazed through a section of the building Tuesday afternoon. 

The residents — estimated to be between 1,200 and 1,500 in number — were either left out in the rain or trapped in their units after a 6-alarm blaze broke out around 1 p.m.

Anisul Haque, a resident on the 19th floor, says he peeked outside after he heard the fire alarm.

"I just opened the door and saw it was all dark. It was all smoke. I could not see." 
Residents look on as smoke can be seen coming out of an apartment building on Parliament Street, just south of Bloor Street East. ( Robert Krbavac/CBC)

About 100 firefighters battled the fire, eventually bringing it under control. Crews then moved through the building floor-by-floor removing the heavy smoke. 

An assessment after the fire was doused revealed that the hydro systems, elevators and fire protection systems were heavily damaged, fire chief Matthew Pegg says.

He issued an evacuation order Tuesday evening. The residents who remained locked in their units as crews fought the fire exited the building under the supervision of emergency teams. 

Pegg estimates that getting those systems back in order will take at least a few days. 
Exhausted firefighters look on as crews continue to battle a major fire at a highrise apartment tower. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

The emergency response team plans to escort residents back into the units to gather necessities like pets or medications, Pegg added. The mayor says he is speaking with the building's landlord to arrange for extra security for the building "so that people would know their belongings are safe."

An emergency shelter has been set up at the Wellesley Centre for residents. Any resident who needs help is asked to register at the centre.

Tory says anyone who can find accommodations with family or friends should do so. The mayor is also asking the rest of the city to pitch in to help house the remaining residents while repairs are being done to the building.

He says anyone who can offer hotel rooms, Airbnb units or even an extra room in a home can email gtaresponse@redcross.ca. 

"It's a lot of people we need to find housing for in a short amount of time," he said. 

Tory says the city will also pitch in to use city facilities as needed but he's hoping that the majority of people will find shelter with Good Samaritans.

"When we've had other emergencies earlier this year, one of the great things about this city is people pull together and really want to help their fellow Torontonians," he said. 

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