Explosion Rocks Toronto's East End - UPDATE
The Sunday morning explosion that rattled the apartment building at 2 Secord Avenue in Toronto's East End caused extensive damage to the basement levels of the building, electrical room and the parking garage, according to the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office.
Ontario Fire Marshal Bill Hiscott explained that it's being characterized as a substantial blast because it started in a confined area and then pushed out in all directions from it's origin. The blast then travelled through the entire length of the building which caused damage from one end to the other. A fireball tore through a ventilation shaft, launching a steel grate over one hundred feet through the air.
The centre of the explosion, located in the first basement level - P1, under the outer edge of the building, lifted the hydro vault and the concrete ceiling above it which in turn lifted the asphalt driveway above that.
Smoke also travelled throughout the entire building via the elevator shaft and ventilation system causing damage to all 300 units.
"I've seen only two of these in my career in nineteen years," said Bill Hiscott.
"This transformer was not working to capacity or over capacity at the time," The Fire Marshal stated.
Toronto Hydro spokeswoman Denise Attallah said, "From everything and all accounts given its a pretty extraordinary circumstance."
According to Hiscott, crews were unable to access the lower levels until yesterday evening where all vehicles on P1 have been destroyed while P2 (the floor below) is under three to four feet of water.
The Fire Marshal says they're looking for fluids that could have caused vapour and that the explosion wasn’t caused by ground migration of natural gas from any pipes associated with the property.
The building is being considered unsafe by structural engineers because several walls have been damaged.
The building is also without water and power.
It will be at least four weeks before the 900 plus residents, most of whom are being temporarily sheltered at nearby Secord Elementary School, can return home.
City councillor Janet Davis says tenants will be allowed to enter their apartments under escort to get items they need while arrangements are made to find them temporary housing.
"We are giving the highest priority possible to ensure that we have a strategy here to support and house the residents of 2 Secord." Davis said.
No cause or damage estimate has been determined as the investigation continues.