Toronto

Hurt firefighter out of hospital after fire blackens unit, hallway

A Toronto firefighter has been released from hospital after he suffered minor smoke inhalation early Wednesday while he was helping to extinguish a highrise fire in East York. The fire blackened an apartment unit, a hallway and balcony.

No one else injured, but firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and unit significantly damaged

A firefighter was taken to hospital in an early morning blaze in this apartment building on Wednesday but he has been released, according to Toronto Fire Services. He suffered smoke inhalation. (John Grierson/CBC)

A Toronto firefighter has been released from hospital after he suffered minor smoke inhalation early Wednesday while he was helping to extinguish a highrise fire in East York.

The fire blackened an apartment unit, a hallway and balcony, causing extensive damage. No one else was injured in the early morning blaze.

Six people who lived in the unit, located on the sixth floor of a residential building on Thorncliffe Park Drive near Overlea Boulevard, were able to escape on their own, according to Toronto Fire Services. They have not been allowed to return as the investigation continues.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the firefighter's injuries were deemed to be not serious and he was released from a local hospital hours after being treated Wednesday.

Balaji Dwivedi, a resident who lives on the sixth floor near where the fire occurred, said he suffered a sore throat from the blaze and soot coated his face. He and his family left the building but have since returned.

Balaji Dwivedi, a resident who lives on the sixth floor down the hallway from where the fire occurred, suffered a sore throat from the smoke and soot coated his face. (CBC)

But luckily, he added, no one was seriously injured.

"There was complete smoke everywhere. We were unable to see anything. It was dark smoke. We left through this exit," he said. "Nobody was hurt. God helped to save them. Everybody was evacuated safely."

Blaze extinguished in less than half an hour

Firefighters were called to the scene at 3:34 a.m., according to Platoon Chief Kevin Shaw, spokesperson for Toronto Fire Services.

When firefighters arrived, the unit was fully engulfed, flames were visible and heavy, floor-to-ceiling smoke was billowing out of the unit and into the hallway.

Shaw said the apartment door was left open, allowing the fire and smoke to migrate. 

A Toronto Fire Services truck is parked outside a residential building in East York early Wednesday after the fire on the sixth floor. (John Grierson/CBC)

Shaw described the fire as significant, in part because it was in a highrise. "It's pretty serious when a hallway gets filled with smoke like that," he said.

Injured firefighter issued Mayday call

Shaw said the firefighter who suffered smoke inhalation called Mayday when he got into trouble. A fire crew reached him at the exit to a stairwell as he was trying to leave. He ended up "self-rescuing," he added.

"Our firefighters are trained to call a Mayday when they believe they are in trouble. He did exactly what he was trained to do and it had a good outcome," Shaw said. 

Some residents on other floors stayed in their units as firefighters worked to put out the blaze.  A TTC bus and a Toronto ambulance bus provided shelter for those who left their units.

The fire was extinguished at 4:03 a.m., less than half an hour after firefighters arrived. Water pooled in the hallway after the fire was put out.

'We were so scared,' said Shagufta Sharif, a Toronto resident who was visiting her mother on the ninth floor. (CBC)

Residents on other floors smelled smoke

Shagufta Sharif, a Toronto resident who was visiting her mother on the ninth floor, said she and her relatives woke to the smell of something burning. It was hard to breathe, she said. 

They went onto the balcony and saw flames, smoke, firefighters and trucks. Shortly afterwards, they heard explosions as the fire burned. 

"Then we heard these boom noises," she said. "We were so scared."

The family sheltered in place in one room because the other rooms in the unit were filled with smoke.

Firefighters still on the scene to determine cause

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Fire investigators are on the scene to determine the circumstances of the blaze. An estimate of the damage was also not available.

According to Capt. Michael Westwood of Toronto Fire Services, the fire is a reminder that people should test their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working properly and should practice their escape plans to ensure they can leave in a hurry if need be.

Toronto police said roads have been reopened in the area.

The family living in the unit was able to escape in time. (Alison Chiasson/CBC)