The massive fire at The Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto was so intense it fused metals and left the building charred, and the damage is painful for many of the club’s members.
“I had to see it with my own eyes. Pictures are one thing, but to see it in person it’s shocking. I feel more shook now,” member Nick Bowland said.
On Tuesday, a six-alarm fire broke out at the athletic club located near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue West shortly after 9 a.m. and more than 120 firefighters responded to the call.
The 25-year-old has been a member since he was just four years old and he said the private club has been his second home.
“I didn’t think it was going to erupt to what it came to. As the day progressed, it got worse and worse and I kind of felt all sunk in,” he said.
It took firefighters almost 24 hours to gain control over the blaze and Capt. Steve Green was one of the first on scene.
“The place is right behind the fire hall. We can see it actually through the back windows of the fire hall,” Green said.
“Myself and a crew member went up to the second floor and there was a door that was leading into what we thought was a maintenance room and brown smoke was coming out from the door.”
Mayor John Tory visited Green as well as other firefighters at Fire Hall 311 Monday morning to thank crews for their work on keeping the fire under control.
“There are people out on the job keeping us safe and it’s a job we appreciate that they do for us,” Tory said.
Officials said despite the extensive damage to the club itself, the adjacent buildings and businesses were largely spared from the blaze.
Bowland said while he is upset to see the building’s remains, he’s happy the fire didn’t spread to nearby buildings.
VIDEO: Getting back to business after the midtown Toronto fire. Tom Hayes reports. (Feb. 15)
While the building will require a lot of work to return to the state it was prior to the fire, Bowland said it has brought the community together.
“It may look empty, but the way the community is we’ll bounce back strong,” he said.
Meanwhile, a notice issued to club members said “a very brief tour of the men’s locker room indicated that locker contents should be recoverable beginning on Wednesday.”
The Ontario Fire Marshall’s office is still investigating the cause of the fire.
David Shum and Adam Miller contributed to this report