TORONTO- A 10-year-old child is dead and close to a hundred are homeless after a townhouse complex in the Greater Toronto Area went up in flames early Sunday morning.
“It was a very intense fire,” said Peel Region Police Const. Lillian Fitzpatrick.
“These people had to leave in the very early morning hours with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”
The child was at the home for a sleepover, Fitzpatrick said, but his family lives in the area.
“Obviously they are completely devastated at this point,” she said of the boy’s family.
“It’s a very, very fresh wound for them. They need some time to collect themselves and deal with this horrible blow.”
Hundreds of residents had been forced to evacuate the area after a two-alarm fire broke out at a townhouse complex on Ardglen Drive in the city of in Brampton at around 3:15 a.m. Sunday morning.
WATCH: Residents react to Brampton townhouse fire
Authorities say the fire started in a single town house before quickly spreading through the roof and engulfing the entire building.
Area residents were loaded onto buses and taken to a nearby Tim Hortons. Roughly 100 have lost their homes, and as many as 300 cannot return home at this point.
Eighteen units were “profoundly damaged” in the blaze, while fire officials still have to assess the structural integrity of a number of other homes, said Fitzpatrick.
By mid morning, the fire had been knocked down, but police said it was “still active” in certain spots with smoke continuing to linger. Fire crews remained on scene.
Those forced out of their homes were being helped by Peel Region social services and the Salvation Army. Temporary accommodation was being arranged for those who needed it.
Officials said it could still be a day or two before residents are allowed to return to homes that survived the blaze.
“It’s very difficult to say when they’ll be able to go back because for them to go back to their homes it has to be safe for them to do so,” said Fitzpatrick.
“There are going to be immediate needs and social services are going to see that they are taken care of.”
The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office, Peel police and the coroner’s office are all investigating the incident.
A trust fund has been set up for the victim’s family as well as for residents affected by the fire.
With files from Jeremy Cohn/Global News in Brampton and the Canadian Press