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‘This is the heart of the community’: Massive structure fire destroys building on Toronto’s Ward Island

Toronto Fire received reports of the major fire at 2:20 a.m. Ryan Belgrave / Global News

Toronto fire crews battled an early morning blaze at the Ward’s Island Community Centre on Sunday.

Emergency responders say calls reporting the fire came in around 2:20 a.m. By the time firetrucks arrived on scene, it was a fully involved structure fire.

Crews from the mainland came by boat to help knock down the fire.

Fire officials say they fought from outside the building over fears of structural integrity.

Residents reported that they had not seen anyone inside the building, but crews conducted a search to ensure everyone was safe. There are no reported injuries at this time.

According to Toronto Fire Captain Bill Papakonstantinou, crews from the mainland came to assist in fighting the flames. Ryan Belgrave / Global News

Community members were shocked and saddened by the damage done to the building.

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Robert Bernecky, who lives just 100 metres from the centre, said it was “the heart of the community.”

“There are a lot of memories here, from weddings, memorial services, you name it, it all happened here,” Bernecky said.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow commented on the loss of the clubhouse, saying the 70-plus year-old building was “historic.”

“The community will come together and rebuild their clubhouse, so they have a place to gather once again,” she said.

Philip Chatterton, another resident in the community, said though the loss was devastating, he too remained hopeful they would bounce back.

“This is a community based on change, so we will get through it, and maybe do even better,” he said.

The fire has been knocked down, but firefighters say they will remain on scene Sunday as a precaution.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg confirmed an investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.

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