200 Wellesley Street Fire Investigation Complete

200 Wellesley Street Fire Investigation Complete
Discarded cigarette cited as cause

July 5, 2011

After a comprehensive fire investigation, the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) has determined that the cause of the fire that began at 200 Wellesley Street East in Toronto on September 24, 2010 was a discarded cigarette that landed on combustible materials on the balcony of apartment 2424.

The tremendous growth and spread of the fire was a result of the excessive amount of combustible materials stored on the balcony and in the suite of origin. Therefore, the OFM is urging landlords and property owners to inform local fire departments of instances of hoarding where they believe it poses a fire safety risk. Local fire departments can help to address these instances of hoarding through the Ontario Fire Code and their partnerships with other community mental health and supporting agencies.

In the context of this large multi-unit dwelling, the intensity of the fire hampered firefighting efforts of Toronto Fire Services and created a significant risk to first responders and those attempting to evacuate the building. This was due to the excessive amount of materials stored on the balcony, which well exceeded the height of the safety railing, and combustible materials that were stored at a significant depth throughout the apartment. Given the amount of these combustible materials, the dwelling was no longer being used for its intended purpose and could have physically trapped an individual inside.

During the incident, a total of 17 people, including five children and three firefighters were injured and transported to numerous hospitals by Toronto EMS. Everyone has since been released from hospital.

The 30 storey, 711 unit residential apartment building owned by Toronto Community Housing Corporation was operated by a property management company at the time of the fire.

The OFM’s investigative nine member team looked into many factors that contributed to the fire including building performance, fire prevention records, occupant behaviour and fire safety planning and evacuation.

Quotes

“Though we are fortunate no one died as a result, this fire caused significant property loss and hardship for everyone who lived in the building. Ontarians are urged to contact their local fire departments if they are aware of dwellings where an excessive amount of combustible materials are present that may pose a fire safety risk.”
- Ted Wieclawek, Ontario Fire Marshal

Contacts

  • Carol Gravelle, Office of the Fire Marshal, 416-325-3138
  • Bev Gilbert, Office of the Fire Marshal, 416-325-3178