Toronto firefighters continue to battle a three-alarm fire at a Scarborough recreation centre on Friday.
Emergency crews were called to the Agincourt Recreation Centre on Glen Watford Drive, near Midland Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East, just before 4:45 p.m. on Thursday.
Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the construction of the roof is making it hard for crews to reach the flames inside the building.
“So our crews are having to get through what looks to be as much as 14 inches of material to expose the fire,” Pegg told reporters during a news conference Friday morning.
“We’re literally chasing the fire across this roof. We just can’t get at it and this is why.”
A spokesperson for Toronto Fire Services told Global News it’s believed the fire started in a mechanical room at the facility.
Weather conditions have posed a challenge for responding crews. Pegg said the water is causing equipment to freeze, which has meant increasing the rotation of equipment and crews at a five-alarm level (under that designation, there are 22 to 25 emergency vehicles on site).
“With the amount of ice we have building, everything we use is immediately freezing,” Pegg said.
“As soon as they shut a hose line off, it’s freezing. The air packs and the breathing apparatus the firefighters are wearing, the regulators are freezing.”
WATCH: Toronto firefighters battling major fire at Agincourt Recreation Centre
Pegg said the majority of the fire appears to be situated in the roof. He said firefighters are attempting to cut through parts of the roof to get water onto the fire.
“We’ve seen this kind of construction sometimes in older churches where you have this really heavy timber construction, but it’s a little bit unique, that why we’ve been flowing water and fighting all night,” Pegg said.
A drone provided by Toronto police was used Friday to pinpoint the heat signature of the flames. Pegg said heavy equipment will be brought in to remove sections of the roof and better tackle the flames.
Officials said the building was fully evacuated and there were no reports of injuries. Pegg said people in the pool were quickly forced to leave the building.
“We had people do the right thing when the fire alarm sounded, they left the fire building without any delay and of course in this case in wet bathing suits,” Pegg said late Thursday evening.
TTC buses were brought in to keep recreation centre patrons and emergency crews warm.
The Toronto District School Board said nearby Sir Alexander Mackenzie SPS had to be relocated to Agincourt CI on Friday.
City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross said the recreation centre is the second busiest facility in Scarborough. It has a pool and an arena.
“Nearly 3,000 registrations in the winter session for more than 400 different courses in addition to drop-in programs,” he noted on Twitter, adding it’s currently unclear how this will impact operations in the near future.
During a visit of the site on Friday, Mayor John Tory said the programs will be relocated to other community centres in the area. Residents who use the facilities are being urged to contact 311 for further information.
Fire officials said the extent the damage is unknown until the fire is out and investigators can get in to assess the building.
— With a file from David Shum