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‘Like a bomb went off’: Massive Toronto fire extinguished

B82TORONTO — Toronto’s deputy fire chief says some residents of an 87-unit condominium who were evacuated because of a massive fire in a nearby athletic facility may be able to return home. Jim Jessop says power is being turned on in the condo building and it will be up to the condominium management to determine when residents can return. He says firefighters will continue to use some of the units in the building to monitor the site of fire that destroyed The Badminton and Racquet Club. Jessop says the area will smell of smoke for a while, but he says air monitoring has been done and “there is absolutely no risk from a health or fire perspective.” City spokeswoman Jackie DeSouza says, however, that residents and businesses in two low-rise buildings near the fire site may be unable to return for days as the structures have to be checked for damage. Authorities did not have information on three other buildings that had been evacuated during the fire. The blaze started shortly after 9 a.m. and wasn’t extinguished until nearly 6 a.m. No one was seriously injured as more than 100 firefighters battled the raging fire that sent smoke billowing over a large area of the city. Jessop said the site of the athletic club at the centre of the fire “looks like a bomb went off.” He called the damage caused by the fire “astronomical,” but added the blaze wasn’t considered suspicious. Firefighters continue to battle “a few hot spots” and the cleanup is underway, he said. Part of the club’s roof collapsed along with a number of other “partial collapses,” said Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg. “I highly doubt there’s going to be a lot of salvageable building left there,” Pegg said. Still, the chief called the “defensive operation” against the fire a success. “Our crews were able to prevent a very large fire from spreading into the adjoining structures and that was our number one goal after we had secured the safety of residents and firefighters,” Pegg said. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, he said, including one twisted ankle. With the blaze put out, the focus moved to cleanup efforts, Pegg said. The first priority was dealing with the large volume of water that had run off and seeped into nearby buildings and hydro vaults as a result of fighting the fire, he said. The Office of the Fire Marshal was expected to begin its investigation into the incident, but Pegg noted that it was still too early to know what had caused the fire. The Badminton and Racquet Club said in an email to club members that “the fire appears to have originated in the main lounge.” Chief operating officer Paul Cadieux thanked members and staff “for their quick action” to help clear the building. An electrical fire in the men’s sauna room destroyed the entire men’s locker room in 2009, according to the club’s website. Subway service has resumed service at the neighbourhood’s local station, which was being bypassed.

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