gardiner fire

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.

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.

Crews were seen pulling out debris such as wood blocks, grocery carts and charred propane tanks in the aftermath of the fire.

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.

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.

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."

Lead photo by

Ann Richards


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