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Toronto On Fire... Literally!

This Sunday was supposed to go down as festival day in T.O. with more street parties, concerts, gatherings and outdoor entertainment than Montreal could shake a stick at.

And sure, it did, but if you were anywhere in the downtown core, or near a window that doesn't face a brick wall, it may also go down in your memory as the day the city was A-BLAZE.

Whether it was the heatwave, arson, or just pot-smokin grannies, come mid-afternoon, black clouds were rising up in all directions.

Two massive fires -- we're talkin' 4 alarm smoke-outs -- struck the city at nearly the same time leaving the fire department scrambling to the flames under control.

The first one I ran into was the fire on the hill: Davenport & Ossington/Oakwood. Driving up Ossington, my friend in the driver's seat suddenly notices huge black clouds rising fast up ahead. Having gone to high school in the area, I figure it must be the auto-body shop just off Oakwood on Davenport.

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We get to the scene in minutes but can't get close enough to see the building itself, only a lineup of fire trucks and some serious ladder-and-hose action attempting to keep the flames down. If it was the auto-body, and I think it must have been, I can understand how we saw flames lick the sky from College Street... lots of fuel.

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We circle the area, which is covered in ashy, foggy air from the clouds. While the younger folks, out trying to catch a glimpse, made things seem harmless, a series of older people were being helped away from the closer sidestreets in obvious distress.

Not immune to the air in our car, we've got to get out of there, so we head back south to College again.

Driving west to Kensington, we come to Bathurst St and are greeting by a police barracade that stretches to Spadina.

Pulling into the corner lot, we ask nearby pedestrians if they know what's going on and they say that there was a fire. We almost laugh, thinking they must be kidding, but they haven't seen the Davenport blaze and what kind of a joke would that be anyways... so we take their word for it.

This time, we can't get anywhere remotely near the area, and having really had enough smokey air for one day, we don't pursue it further.

Later a Sunday-night search of Toronto's most 'up to date' news sites results in little to no info on either fire. Only Pulse24 has got a brief web story about the College & Spadina incident.

Whether the culprit or not, the heat is going to continue all this week, so perhaps we should all take some time this Monday lunch break to review the fire evacuation procedures? Hmm?


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