agincourt rec centre fire

Firefighters struggle to put out massive blaze at Scarborough rec centre

Contrary to what one might assume, extreme cold weather can make it hard to snuff out stubborn fires—especially in large, lofty spaces like the Agincourt Recreation Centre, as emergency crews have been demonstrating now for more than 18 hours.

Firefighters were called to the centre near Glen Watford Drive and Rural Avenue in Scarborough around 4:45 p.m. on Thursday night after flames started shooting from a mechanical room.

The fire was deemed a 5-alarm blaze at its peak, though it has since been downgraded to 3 alarms. Still, as of Friday morning, it rages on, despite the all-night efforts of Toronto's finest.

City of Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said just before noon on Friday that crews continue to struggle with "extreme cold and icing situations."

Some of said crews reportedly had to thaw their equipment on TTC shelter buses overnight as the wind chill brought temperatures to a painful low of -31 C.

Photos and videos from the scene show just what fire crews have been dealing with: Strong winds, icy ladders, instant, and stalactite-like icicle formations. 

More than 30 trucks were called to the scene, where heavy smoke and cold fog has made visibility an issue.

No injuries have been reported, but witnesses say that people using the pool were forced to run outside wearing little more than swimwear when the fire was first reported.

It's the firefighters who are bearing the brunt of the physical pain, however, as they fight relentlessly against both fire and ice at the very same time.

Many locals are thanking fire crews for their tireless work on Twitter right now.

Scarborough residents are also mourning the destruction of a vital community hub — which, as of 1 p.m. on Friday, is still on fire.

City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross notes that, after the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, the Agincourt Community Centre is Scarborough's second-busiest recreational facility with nearly 3,000 registrations for more than 400 different courses this season.

"Can't thank crews from ⁦Toronto Fire enough for battling this fire in this bitter cold," he wrote on Twitter this morning. "Agincourt Recreational Centre programs are cancelled until further notice."

The financial impact caused by the fire is yet to be determined, nor has how much of the building will need to be rebuilt after all of the fire, ice, smoke and water damage. 

Lead photo by

Toronto Professional Fire Fighters' Association/O. Hassan


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