Toronto

York Memorial Collegiate Institute fire deemed accidental but cause still unknown

The Ontario Fire Marshal's office has ruled that a massive fire that tore through the historic York Memorial Collegiate Institute earlier this year was accidental, but exactly caused the ignition remains unknown.

Ontario Fire Marshal's office could not say whether building is structurally sound or provide cost of damage

The six-alarm fire, which broke out in May, burned for more than 24 hours, causing serious damage to the building and displacing some 900 students and staff. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)

The Ontario Fire Marshal's office has ruled that a massive fire that tore through York Memorial Collegiate Institute earlier this year was accidental, but what exactly caused the ignition remains unknown.

The six-alarm fire, which broke out in May, burned for more than 24 hours, causing serious damage to the historic building and displacing some 900 students and staff.

Three months later, the OFM says its investigative team has been unable to isolate the source of the ignition but has concluded the fire was an accident.

"This was a single-event fire originating within the wall cavities of the structure in the area of the school auditorium," said spokesperson Carol Gravelle. Asked for more information, Gravelle said she could not get into the the specific circumstances. 

The OFM also hasn't said whether the building is structurally sound or whether it needs to be torn down. 

The school, whose cornerstone was laid in Toronto's Eglinton Avenue W. and Keele Street area on May 6, 1929, had just marked its 90th anniversary when flames broke out.

Firefighters battled the flames for some four hours before the fire was finally knocked down.

Almost four months after a fire broke out at York Memorial Collegiate Institute, the Office of the Fire Marshal has determined it to be 'accidental.' (Kelda Yuen/CBC)

The following morning, firefighters were called for reports of a second blaze, which quickly escalated to six alarms, gutting much of the building. 

Built in the wake of the First World War by the old township of York, York Memorial Collegiate Institute had been covered in symbolism, in honour of the young men in the community who gave their lives as soldiers. 

The OFM could not provided an estimated cost of the total damage.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg says he won't be commenting on the report until he has reviewed it "in detail in order to gain a full understanding as to the origin, cause and circumstance."

Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird says the board also won't be commenting. "Our focus right now and in the weeks ahead is on York Memorial students and staff as they begin the school year," he said.

Students from the school will start the their school year at Scarlett Heights. 

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