One year after a devastating six-alarm fire ripped through the Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto, officials from the historic facility held a ceremony on Wednesday morning to thank the community and the emergency personnel who kept everyone safe during the incident.
The blaze erupted around 9 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2017, and tore through the three-storey athletic club, forcing the evacuation of surrounding buildings. The fire caused an estimated $10 million in damage.
“There was a period where we didn’t know that everybody got out OK. And Toronto Fire Services again went into the burning building… and they made sure that everybody did get out,” COO of the Badminton and Racquet Club Paul Cadiux said at the ceremony on Wednesday.
No one was reported injured during the incident.
Some staff members were able to save some keepsakes before evacuating the building, such as a sign dating back to the opening of the club in 1924.
“Everybody sort of grabbed whatever they could on the way out the door and when we knew it was bad, we pulled out what we could,” Cadiux said.
The fire utilized about half of the city’s fire fleet. At the height of the fire, more than 100 firefighters and 40 trucks were dispatched to the scene.
“We used 19-million litres of water at this fire, that’s the equivalent to 7.6 Olympic-sized pools or the flow rate over the Niagara Horseshoe Falls for 8.5 seconds,” Toronto Fire Deputy Chief Tony Bavota said.
It was a fire like nothing Bavota had ever seen.
“I started my employment with the city of Toronto on Feb. 6, 2017, and as you are well aware, the fire took place at his club on Feb. 14,” Bavota said.
Toronto Paramedic Services Supt. David Cooke was amongst the first EMS supervisors to respond to the fire. To this day, he still cannot believe no one was injured.
“We only treated a little bit of minor smoke inhalation from some of the firefighters, that’s it, I don’t believe anyone was transported to the hospital on that day,” Cooke said.
A year later, club representatives said “thank you” to emergency crews for keeping everyone safe, and managing to save half of the facility.
The east building was completely gutted, reduced to nothing more than a frame holding bits of broken wood and steel.
But management has committed to rebuilding and reopening that building within the next 18 months.
The tennis dome has been open almost the whole year since the incident, but members are eager for the eventual full reopening of the place many of them call their second home.
“The love for this place has never died. We have an incredible membership,” member Sue Fleming said.
The club also donated $1,000 to a local charity as a way of making amends for leaving some in the community displaced for a few days after the fire.
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