By Rebecca Burton and Sarah Del Giallo
A six-alarm fire set blaze to a heritage building at Yonge and Gould at 4:05 a.m. Monday morning.
The fire was battled by 32 trucks and 125 firefighters.
At 10:40 a.m. a water cannon and hose were still soaking the building, and no flames could be seen from the street. Toronto Fire Division Commander Lorne Buckingham reported the fire crews were still fighting hot spots throughout the building.
Yonge Street has been blocked off from Dundas to Gerrard Streets. Fire crews aim to open the southern part of Yonge Street within the next few hours, said Buckingham.
Four firefighters were reported with minor injuries. Three were taken to St. Michael’s Hospital as a precautionary measure and have since been released.
“We lucked out, no one was seriously injured,” said Buckingham.
At approximately 10:04 a.m. a large section of the front wall, above the area previously occupied by Salad King, collapsed.
Ryerson University has been shut down for the remainder of today. However, Ryerson residence buildings will re-open today as planned, according to a Twitter update from Residence Manager Chad Nuttall.
Neighbouring commercial buildings, including the Yonge Street HMV, are experiencing extensive water damage and some smoke damage. No fire damage has been reported yet.
Ryerson has not reported any fire damage. But the Victoria Street book store has seen severe smoke damage to its west wall adjoining the defunct building.
Fire crews now wait for city structural engineers to determine if the building will be deemed a hazard. If an order is put in, the building could be demolished later today.
The building, constructed in 1888 and previously run as the Empress Hotel, saw severe damage earlier this year after the front wall on Gould Street collapsed in May, shutting down a majority of the block and surrounding businesses.
Gas and electricity had been shut off prior to the fire starting, but investigations will not start until the fire has been put out.
Buckingham wouldn’t comment if arson was involved with the fire, saying further investigation was necessary.
More to come.
Photos by Marta Iwanek