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1,500 Toronto residents displaced after 6-alarm high-rise fire in St. James Town

WATCH ABOVE: Residents returned to collect their belongings after a six-alarm fire at their apartment building prompted a mandatory evacuation on Tuesday. Shallima Maharaj reports.

Around 1,500 residents of a high-rise complex in Toronto’s St. James Town neighbourhood remain displaced following a six-alarm blaze on Tuesday, and it is not known when they will be allowed to return home.

Emergency crews responded to a call around 12:51 p.m. 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.

READ MORE: Toronto fire chief says 6-alarm high-rise blaze extinguished, up to 1,500 people displaced

Officials said crews found heavy black smoke coming out of the basement and moving up the building. Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the blaze caused significant damage to the building’s electrical system and repairs will have to be made before residents are permitted to return.

“We are working as fast as we can,” Pegg said on Wednesday.

Pegg said two patients were taken to hospital by paramedics for minor smoke-related injuries.

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Resident urged to seek accommodations with family and friends

City officials and the Canadian Red Cross had been working overnight to find accommodations for displaced residents. Others made arrangements to stay with family or friends.

Those who needed assistance were asked to register at the Wellesley Community Centre at 495 Sherbourne St.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the Regent Park Community Centre at 402 Shuter St. will also have a reception area for displaced residents.

Those who have registered Tuesday night and stayed at either community centres will be notified as hotels become available. An information line for residents is also being established.

Toronto Fire personnel will be on site Wednesday to help residents retrieve personal items and vehicles. Officials said on Wednesday that it will likely be several days before people can return to their units.

Mayor John Tory said he has been speaking with representatives for the owners of the building. He said the building’s owners have arrange for contractors to be on standby to make the necessary repairs once Toronto Fire Services returns control of the building.

Tory asked for hotels, motels and short-term rental hosts who have space available to call 1-855-797-8875.

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Airbnb told Global News in a statement that it has activated its ‘open homes’ program. It allows people in need of accommodation to stay at certain properties free of charge until Sept. 2.

Pets will also be offered support from Animal Services and temporary shelters if necessary until they can be reunited with their owners.

The cause of the fire and a damage estimate have yet to be determined.

— With files from Nick Westoll

VIDEO: Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg provides update on 6-alarm high-rise fire

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg provides update on 6-alarm high-rise fire
Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg provides update on 6-alarm high-rise fire
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