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Firefighters continue to douse hot spots in midtown racquet club fire

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 15th, 2017

Nearly 20 hours after first arriving on scene, firefighters continue to pour water on a massive six-alarm fire in midtown Toronto that forced the evacuation of surrounding buildings.

An excavator was tearing down debris late into the night to help firefighters reach hot spots.

More than 120 firefighters were summoned to the Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto near Yonge and St. Clair at around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. They were greeted by a ravenous fire that was quickly spreading.

Firefighters were ordered out of the building, so fire crews had to tackle the blaze from the balconies of neighbouring buildings.

Video: St. Clair fire social media video. To view on mobile click here.

There’s no indication at this point what started the blaze, which broke out on the second floor of the racquet club at 25 St. Clair Ave. W.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the excavator work is a “very slow operation” and that firefighters would be on the scene into Wednesday morning.

Pegg said evacuation orders remained in effect and he hope to have a better idea in the morning as to when the orders would be lifted.

Mayor John Tory said late Tuesday night that people displaced by the fire should prepare for an extended evacuation.

In terms of road closures, St. Clair east of Yonge is open in both directions, as is Yonge in both directions north of St Clair.

However, the eastbound lanes of St. Clair west of Yonge will remain closed from Avenue Road to Yonge, and Yonge in both directions from St. Clair to Woodlawn Avenue is closed.

The TTC said streetcars are up and running along St. Clair, and St. Clair Station is also open to subways when service begins at 6 a.m. The 97 Yonge bus will be on diversion around St Clair.

Police said they anticipate the fire scene to remain active for at least the next 24 hours.

The original building that houses the racquet club was built in the late 1800s by the Toronto and York Railway company. In 1921, the TTC took over the building and used it as a streetcar house. In 1924, it became the Toronto Badminton and Racquet Club.

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