Firefighters continuing to battle blaze at York Memorial C.I., neighbouring schools are open Wednesday

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Firefighters continuing to battle blaze at York Memorial C.I., neighbouring schools are open Wednesday


Firefighters are still working to contain the fire at York Memorial Collegiate Institute more than a day after it ravaged the historic high school.

Toronto Fire Services said Wednesday morning that progress was made overnight toward stamping out the fire, although classes at York Memorial and George Harvey Collegiate Institute remain cancelled.

Toronto Fire continue to douse York Memorial Collegiate Institute with water during the six-alarm fire which continues to burn.
Toronto Fire continue to douse York Memorial Collegiate Institute with water during the six-alarm fire which continues to burn.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

Ryan Bird, TDSB spokesperson, said that neighbouring schools such as Keelesdale Junior Public School, Silverthorn Collegiate Institute and Charles E. Webster Public School have been cleared to open after air quality tests were conducted overnight.

On Tuesday, more than 100 firefighters and at least 10 fire trucks converged on York Memorial to combat a six-alarm blaze detected earlier that morning. Heavy smoke and flames could be seen pouring from the building. Parts of the roof and walls toward the school’s south side appeared to have collapsed and traffic was blocked on several streets around the school.

Toronto Fire Capt. David Eckerman said firefighting personel has since been reduced as they make progress on containing the fire, but that structural engineers will join the first-responders today to advise on demolition intended to prevent another flare-up.

“We’re going to be bringing in specialized equipment to pull back the wall, and we’ll do some demolition of certain areas to better get at the burning,” he said Wednesday.

Bird said Tuesday that it was too early to determine where the roughly 900 York Memorial students will attend classes for the rest of the school year. Classes are set to end on June 7, followed by two weeks of exams.

“Right now, we’re taking this one day at a time so it’s too early to say what the plans moving forward are going to be. Staff are currently looking at possible plans that we’ll be able to finalize once we’re able to enter the building in the days ahead,” Bird said Tuesday.

Staff from both schools will be reassigned to Oakwood Collegiate for the day, and social workers will be at Oakwood to support students and staff as needed.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said it is too early to tell what caused Tuesday’s fire. There will be an investigation into both fires, he said.

Paramedics services said one person was treated for smoke inhalation Monday, but no serious injuries have been reported.

With files from Ilya Banares and Gilbert Ngabo

Jacob Lorinc is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @jacoblorinc





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