Smoky haze blankets Toronto as massive fire burns down high school
No, it's not just you — much of Toronto smells like smoke right now on account of a stubborn, 6-alarm fire at an historic high school near Eglinton and Keele.
"But I live all the way downtown!" you say? Yeah, there's that much smoke.
The 90-year-old York Memorial Collegiate Institute at 2690 Eglinton Ave. W. has been burning steadily since around 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
I have a balcony seat view of the fire at York Memorial CI. pic.twitter.com/CkP5MHxA8l— Tyler (@Star_By_Night) May 7, 2019
A fire that was contained at the same address on Monday afternoon is being investigated separately, according to the Toronto Fire Service.
The fire, which was upgraded from a 5-alarm to a 6-alarm blaze around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, is casting heavy plumes of smoke across much of western Toronto.
Le feu continue de brûler activement au York Mémorial Collegiate Institute. La fumée se fait plus foncée, plus dense et se propage plus que ce matin. On aperçoit également des flammes sur le toit. #once #icito pic.twitter.com/nLhtadW6qy— Rozenn NICOLLE (@RozNicolle) May 7, 2019
Plumes of smoke can be seen rising from York Memorial in pretty much any neighbourhood with a clear view of the area.
It can be seen from Finch ! pic.twitter.com/hjSCwt5Yqr— Ashley MacLeod (@NessaRishna) May 7, 2019
Those who live nearby are being evacuated from their homes, beginning with buildings fronting the south side of Eglinton between Trethewey and Bicknell.
"Toronto Fire and Toronto Police are bringing additional resources to the scene to assist with evacuating people in the smoke plume," wrote Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg on Twitter shortly after 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
"If you are in an area with smoke, please move to clean air.... Additional TTC buses are being brought in for shelter. If you are in the area, please move east of Trethewey or west of Bicknell."
The initial phase of evacuation will involve those buildings fronting on the south side of Eglinton between Trethewey and Bicknell. Additional TTC buses being brought in for shelter. If you are in the area, please move east of Trethewey or west of Bicknell. @Toronto_Fire pic.twitter.com/4bJbPhMvwt— Matthew Pegg (@ChiefPeggTFS) May 7, 2019
Citizens are similarly being asked by police to avoid the area, where traffic is extremely heavy.
The smell of smoke is being reported by residents of neighbourhoods all the way from Finch to Lake Ontario.
Why does Queen West smell like fire today?— Andrew Traviss (@andrewtraviss) May 7, 2019
Residents of The Junction, which is directly south of the fire zone, are being hit particularly hard.
Is there a huge fire near the Junction? There is a string smell of smoke.— D! (@junctionette) May 7, 2019
And the sight, for many, is as disturbing as the smell.
As it stands now, aerial fire trucks continued to douse the school's burning roof with water in an attempt to control the flames and smoke.
Big scary fire as seen from the train. I can smell it. It smells like wood and fireworks pic.twitter.com/L5WQA0whU3— Ross I 🇨🇦 (@R_J_I) May 7, 2019
"Our principal focus now in collaboration with the police is making sure that we’re implementing the necessary evacuations out of an abundance of caution to keep people safe," said Pegg to reporters in a 10:30 a.m. update.
More than 100 firefighters remain on the scene, though they have been called down from the roof out of concerns for their safety.
"There's no one operating inside the building," said Peg. "Very very heavy fire, very heavy smoke, very complicated and challenging operation for us."
Join the conversation Load comments