Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg says a six-alarm fire at a high-rise building in the St. James Town neighbourhood has been extinguished several hours after it broke out, leaving up to 1,500 people displaced.
Energency crews responded to a call around 12:51 p.m. Tuesday at 650 Parliament St., just south of Bloor Street East. The fire was originally deemed a two-alarm blaze but was steadily upgraded throughout the afternoon.
Officials said crews found heavy black smoke coming out of the basement and moving up the building.
During an update late Tuesday evening, Pegg said there has been “significant damage” to the building and to several of the building’s systems. Twenty-six fire units and 100 firefighters were dispatched to the scene.
WATCH: Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg provides update on 6-alarm high-rise fire
“There is no hydro whatsoever in the building … there are no lights, there are no fire protection services, there are no elevators,” Pegg said, adding an “immediate threat to life” notice has been issued against the building.
“We will prohibit anyone from occupying or being in the building until repairs are done.”
Firefighters had to physically walk up and down the stairs of the building due to the loss of electricity. Pegg said it was “extremely demanding” for firefighters to have to climb flights of stairs with 75 to 100 pounds of gear on their backs.
Pegg said two patients were taken to hospital by paramedics for minor smoke-related injuries.
Mayor John Tory said Canadian Red Cross officials are working to find accommodations for more than 1,000 people. The remaining residents made arrangements to stay with family or friends.
Tory said anyone who needs assistance can register at the Wellesley Community Centre at 495 Sherbourne St.
He also appealed to hotel operators, Airbnb hosts and others with spare accommodations to email firstname.lastname@example.org to assist with temporarily housing those with nowhere else to go. Tory said officials would assist residents with transportation.
Affected residents will gradually be shuttled to the building and they will be allowed brief access to their units to gather essential items.
Meanwhile, Pegg said the investigation into the cause of the blaze won’t begin until residents have a chance to access the building.
He said there were reports the electrical systems were involved in the fire, but he said it’s too early to confirm what led to the blaze.
“We don’t have any information on cause, nor damage, nor the origin of the fire — that will be pending,” Pegg said.