Toronto smoke smell

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.

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.

Plumes of smoke can be seen rising from York Memorial in pretty much any neighbourhood with a clear view of the area.

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."

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.

Residents of The Junction, which is directly south of the fire zone, are being hit particularly hard.

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.

"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."

Lead photo by

Celadon Cat


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