UPDATE: Fire finally out at Agincourt Recreation Centre
After close to 39 hours - over two days - Toronto Fire Services were finally able to put out a massive blaze that caused severe damage to a Scarborough Community Centre.
“This morning at about 7:40 p.m. we called loss stopped which basically means we believe the fire to be out and any further damage will basically be nil,” District Chief Scott Harrison told CP24 at the scene on Saturday morning. “The problem is that there may be a hotspot or two still. We have thermal imaging cameras that we will use from the aerials and from the ground to make sure there is no hotspots.”
The bulk of the fire was concentrated in the roof above a swimming pool, forcing crews to battle it from the exterior of the building rather than inside.
The four alarm fire broke out at the Agincourt Recreation Centre near Midland Ave and Sheppard Ave E at about 4 p.m. Thursday.
By early Friday, an icy crust covered the roof while smoke drifted into the air.
The extent of the damage is not yet known but fire officials said Saturday afternoon that the arena portion of the building appeared to be unharmed.
"[In] the arena portion of the building, our crews were able to prevent any extension of fire into the arena," said Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg. "We've been into the arena and the only thing that's visible inside that structure is some water extension as a result of the firefighting operations, so that's outstanding."
"The bulk of the fire and the actual damage from the fire is limited to the pool area and the immediate surrounding areas and of course, the roof structure" he added.
"But the actual fire damage inside is remarkably low. The majority of what we're seeing is the consequence of the fire and the supression operations with water, but my hats off to all of the crews that worked so hard here."
Thursday night, Pegg said the complex that includes a pool and two ice rinks was quickly cleared out.
"That literally included folks that were swimming in the pool. They immediately exited the pool, came out into these conditions in wet bathing suits and went and sought shelter in nearby buildings."
No one was hurt.
There was concern that chemicals used to treat and prepare the pool and ice surfaces could present a hazard. But by 8:30 p.m. Pegg said crews had gone into the building and determined that those chemicals were out of reach of the flames.
But accessing the fire, concentrated in the building's roof proved to be challenge. It was complicated by extreme temperatures, feeling colder than minus 30 overwhelming gear and firefighters.
"The equipment that they're wearing and using is freezing solid, so we're having to use the transit buses and our rehab vehicles just to get things thawed out," Pegg told reporters.
It is not clear what sparked the fire, though there were initial reports it started in the complex's mechanical room.
The Agincourt Recreation Centre is home to around 400 programs with 3,000 registered users.
City spokesperson Brad Ross says the building holds recreational swims, children's birthday parties, and programming for children, seniors and people with disabilities.
Ross says it's not yet clear how the fire will impact these programs.
Investigators with the Ontario Fire Marshal's office are now at the scene and anticipate the investigation will wrap up on Sunday evening or Monday morning.
- With files from Tiffany Hendsbee, Siobhan Morris, Claude Feig, Jackie Rosen and CP 24