Here's what we know about the homeless camp that caught fire under the Gardiner Expressway
A portion of the Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto is worse for wear (or rather worse than usual) today after fire ravaged a makeshift homeless encampment.
Toronto Fire officials say they were first called to a homeless camp beneath the busy highway near Bay Street and Lakeshore Boulevard around 2:16 p.m. on Sunday.
Initial reports of a garbage fire progressed into reports of explosions as thick, black smoke rose billowed up and over the Gardiner.
Haven’t notice the fire until I heard the siren from the fire truck.... pic.twitter.com/VBpPyXdNWz— Ssssherrrry Zhu (@SherryGZHU) March 1, 2020
Eight firefighters and two trucks responded to the scene, according to CBC News, and were able to get the fire under control within 15 minutes of arriving.
The fire had been snuffed out completely by 3 p.m., according to emergency responders, but the eastbound Gardiner was closed at Bay Street for hours while police, firefighters and City of Toronto structural engineers investigated.
So about that crazy fire under the Gardiner Expressway... pic.twitter.com/BT8hGcAQrW— Clayton Hansler (@chansler) March 1, 2020
Crews were seen pulling out debris such as wood blocks, grocery carts and charred propane tanks in the aftermath of the fire.
An officer picks up two of the several scorched propane tanks found at the scene of this grass fire on the WB Gardiner ramp to Jameson. Multiple explosions heard. This was a homeless encampment. No injuries. @680NEWS pic.twitter.com/DEXBcRqV6t— Mark Douglas (@Douglas680NEWS) February 24, 2020
Fortunately, firefighters were able to snuff out the blaze before anyone could get hurt. The encampment and all of its tents were, however, completely destroyed.
As of Monday morning, the underside of a westbound Gardiner Expressway ramp between Yonge and Bay Streets remains blackened.
.@Toronto_Fire crews called to working fire at a homeless encampment underneath a Gardiner expressway on-ramp on Lakeshore west of Yonge. @cityoftoronto engineers called to inspect ramp for suspected fire damage. #Toronto pic.twitter.com/KqDhYGFaTx— Andrew Collins (@ACollinsPhoto) March 1, 2020
This is far from the first fire of its kind to make headlines in recent months.
Last Sunday, February 23, an uncontrolled fire injured four people at a homeless encampment beneath the Gardiner Expressway in Corktown.
Another camp similarly caught fire near the Gardiner and Jameson Avenue the very next morning.
Charred propane tanks were found at the scenes of both fires, which remain under investigation.
[Toronto] “A fire at a #homeless encampment near the Don Valley Parkway left four people with injuries Sunday morning. Toronto Fire received numerous calls for a fire in the area of Bayview Avenue & Corktown Common Trail, shortly before 6 a.m.” #TOPolihttps://t.co/H3W3fQ48bG— HousingNowTO (@HousingNowTO) February 23, 2020
The affected portion of the Gardiner Expressway has reopened since yesterday's encampment fire, though the cause of the blaze remains under investigation as well.
Police are not investigating a criminal link between any of the recent under-highway fires, according to the Toronto Star, as they believe people experiencing homelessness were simply "trying to find heat sources because of the cold weather."
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