At least eight people displaced after explosion damages East York residential building

A two-storey residential building in East York has been significantly damaged after a possible gas explosion Friday afternoon, displacing at least eight people.

Toronto Fire was initially called to a residence on Woodbine Avenue, south of Lumsden Avenue, at around 5:10 p.m. for reports of a fire in the basement.

Platoon Chief Peter Chow told reporters that when firefighters arrived, they quickly knocked down the blaze.

“At that point, the crews realized that the building was not safe, so we evacuated,” Chow said.

Images from the scene show doors and windows blown out and rubble scattered in front of the building.

All occupants of the building, including a family of four who lives in the basement, made it out, Chow said.

Toronto paramedics said they assessed one person on the scene but did not transport anyone to hospital.

However, four people made their way to hospital, police said. There is no immediate word on their conditions.

Chow said they are waiting for structural engineers to inspect the building.

“We have to wait until the building is actually deemed safe before we go back in,” he said.

“The walls don’t look like it’s cracked from what we can see. I don’t think there’s a danger of it collapsing right now.”

Chow noted that the damage could have been much worse if not for the windows, which he said gave an “exit for the gases.”

While crews did not see any damage in the adjacent house, he said engineers will also determine if the structure is sound.

A hazardous materials truck is also on scene to do air monitoring because there is an odour coming from the building, Chow said.

Fire investigators and the Ontario Fire Marshal have been called to determine the cause of the explosion.

‘Windows around us exploded’

Mike Wiznuk was in his room when he heard a big boom.

"The crate on the vent in my room popped off its hole and flew into the air, and a big cloud of smoke came out," Wiznuk told CTV News Toronto.

"We all just bailed out of the house as quick as we could."

He lives with two other people, including Spencer Scurr, who was putting away groceries when he said there was a blast and the floor jumped.

"I was just talking to our other roommate who was cooking, and then the floor jumped about half a foot, and all of the windows around us exploded," Scurr said.

"I didn't spend much time taking stuff in. It was just -- get out."

Wiznuk said he asked a firefighter what the chances are that they'd be able to get back in.

Zero, the firefighter told him.

"How about getting back in there ever? And he also said zero because the building is now structurally unsound," Wiznuk said.

He said they will be spending the night at their friend's place.

Right now, Scurr said he feels fine, but he knows that he'll have to deal with the aftermath of the incident soon.

"I hope I have a place to live (in) eventually because I had to move four times this year and I finally found a place I liked and it literally exploded," he said.

"If that doesn't sum up 2020, then I don't know what does."