toronto islands fire

Someone started a fire at Hanlan's Point Beach on the Toronto Islands

One of Toronto's most party-friendly outdoor spaces became a literal fire island this weekend thanks to some cottonwood fluff, a cigarette butt, and the hot, hot summertime heat.

Hanlan's Point Beach was bumping on Sunday afternoon as soaring temperatures sent scads of young adults out to the Toronto Islands. 

The clothing-optional beach, known for its lack of children and abundance of happy fun-seekers, also happens to be a magnet for the fluffy white seeds of cottonwood trees, when the wind is right — and this was definitely the case all weekend.

Pretty as it might be (for people who don't have allergies), this "summertime snow" is extremely flammable, as are dry grass and trees.

All it took was one carelessly disposed-of cigarette, witnesses say, to spark a blaze on one of the trails leading up to the beach.

Photo and video footage of the small grass/rubbish fire emerged on Twitter and Instagram shortly after 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Toronto Fire Service crews were dispatched at 1:02 p.m., and appear to have put out the blaze before any serious damage was caused.

"Don't throw your cigarette butts on the ground," scolded a Twitter account run by staff at the Hanlan's Point mooring wall later on Sunday. "It might catch on fire."

Indeed, this part of the island is no stranger to fire. A large grass fire broke out in the same area two summers ago, creating plumes of smoke visible from mainland Toronto.

In 1909, a far more devastating fire claimed an amusement park at Hanlan's Point, as well as the long gone Hotel Hanlan.

Lead photo by

Christopher Clark


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