Toronto

3-alarm fire engulfs downtown building under renovation

Toronto fire is investigating the origin of a fire that engulfed a Yonge Street building that was under renovation.

One southbound lane of Yonge Street near Wellesley Street will be closed throughout the morning

About 50 firefighters and three aerial ladders were necessary to contain the fire to the single building. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Toronto fire is investigating the origin of a fire that engulfed a downtown building that was under renovation.

Crews responded to the fire in the building near the intersection of Yonge and Wellesley streets just after 11 p.m. Monday. 

The blaze quickly escalated to a three-alarm. Nearly 50 firefighters and three aerial ladders were necessary to contain the fire from spreading to adjacent structures.

"Crews worked under extreme conditions," said Toronto fire Deputy Chief Jim Jessop. "These buildings are literally joined together. It was a tough fire for the crews, very tight quarters."

Residents from a neighbouring apartment complex were forced to leave their homes as the fire threatened to spread. 

Several hours into the battle, the blaze breached through the roof of the building. It took more than four hours to finally knock it down. 

Fire investigators are on scene, according to Jessop, and city engineers will evaluate adjacent buildings before residents return home. It's far too early in the investigation to speculate on what may have caused the fire, Jessop added.

Yonge Street was closed in both directions for several hours during the fire's peak. Both northbound lanes and one southbound lane have since reopened to traffic. The other southbound lane will likely be closed throughout the morning, Jessop said.