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St. Patrick's Fire
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I was driving a friend home after celebrating St. Paddy's, when I encountered a large number of police cars and fire trucks passing me on the street. And so another adventure began...
On Ontario Street, the block west of Pie-IX was on fire. I got out of the car and took the following set of pictures.
Amazing how the reflective lettering and signs stand out so much when you use the flash. My flash was getting some rather unwelcome attention from some nearby police, so all my other shots were taken without a flash.
Firemen get ready to smash the window of the appliance store.
Smoke billows out of the newly broken window of the appliance store.
A fireman silhouetted on the roof.
A closeup view of the cherrypicker from the last photo.
The police finally chased me and the rest of the spectators away, so I took one last shot of a silhouetted fireman on the roof as I was walking away.
Amazingly, these shots were taken about 12 hours earlier, in the other end of the city as I was driving by. The location was the corner of Guy Street and de Maisonneuve Boulevard, with both an office tower and an apartment high-rise located here. There were at least 5 trucks on this call, but I could not see any smoke.
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elaine: 18th Mar 2006 - 14:59 GMT
interesting about smashing the window - i guess they kind of know what happens next...
jeeff: 19th Mar 2006 - 00:31 GMT
cool. the smoke & fire & lights at night make for some pretty interesting lighting in the photos.
i used to live in a tall highrise in the center of toronto (i was on the 24th floor) and the fire alarm went off all the time. it was always a false alarm, except once. i could smell smoke in the hallway and in the stairwell as i began to make my way down. it got thicker as i approached the 21st floor, and i passed a couple of firemen with a hose. "there's the fire," i thought. i continued walking down and began to smell smoke again. when i came to the 8th floor, the fire door was propped open and the hallway was thick with smoke. down in the lobby i found out that there were 2 fires simultaneously. go figure. at least the fire department was killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
EvilGentleman: 19th Mar 2006 - 00:47 GMT
The smashed windows were the least of their worries. I drove by again late this afternoon, and here is the aftermath:
The appliance store was totally destroyed, and I imagine the stores on either side of it shall have to be torn down as well. The wreckage was still smouldering 12 hours later, and the police had the area cordoned off, as fire investigators continue their work.
The building across the alley behind the row of stores suffered broken windows fron the heat. This was the site of the bright glow of flame visible in the first picture above.
Views of the damage from the back of the buildings. I was not able to get this close when the fire was burning.
Rubble in the street, probably from the facade of the appliance store. Amazingly, the bar on the corner, which took some lighter damage from the fire, still had electricity. I could see the Budweiser fluorescent signs inside still illuminated.
EvilGentleman: 19th Mar 2006 - 02:57 GMT
I just heard media reports saying that over 100 firefighters were called to control this fire, and that the only injury was one firefighter who suffered some facial cuts. Apparently the fire started on the second floor above the appliance store, and then spread to other buildings, leaving 12 apartments destroyed, and 30 people homeless.
I think some photographs, as poignant and evocative as they may be, should not be taken, out of simple respect. As I stood at the corner holding my camera, a young lady wandered around the corner carrying her seven-year-old son, a fire department blanket wrapped around the boy as she cradled him to her front, his bare feet sticking out in the cold winter air. The wind chill at that time was -14 C. The shock and sadness in that child's eyes was so haunting, I will remember it for a long time. The mother glared at those of us holding cameras and recording the destruction of all her family's worldly possessions, as if to ask us what right we had to be there. Then her face softened, as she must have put herself in our shoes, and realized that had this been a different block, perhaps she too, would have been standing with a camera in hand and watching. She was on the inside of the fire department cordon, and we on the outside. She paused, and I gave her a nod of acknowledgement and I hope, respect. She then went on her way, and carried her son around the corner and back to whatever shelter the fire department had set up there. It really makes you think about exactly what it is you are watching when things like that happen.
EvilGentleman: 19th Mar 2006 - 03:06 GMT
Oooh, I just noticed the H&R Block tax centre sharing the building with the appliance store. And it is the heart of income tax season, too. That has to really suck, trying to explain why your return is late due to a fire. I guess a few hundred people will feel the effect of that one. I wonder what all the businesses were that were lost, and how their customers will feel to not be able to shop there anymore. I'm especially curious what that Evasia store sold...
EvilGentleman: 21st Mar 2006 - 02:43 GMT
I just found my answer at some commercial website here: commerces.arrondissement.com/Mercier_Hochelaga_Maisonneuve/commerce.asp?id=114&sortcode=8.3
Decorative articles - zen - feng shui - Chinese/Japanese pottery - jewellry - body piercing - books - incense - and "bonsai naturals?"
Chris Erb: 19th Jun 2006 - 02:47 GMT
Any updates on this block? I'm curious as to what is being rebuilt.
EvilGentleman: 19th Jun 2006 - 03:17 GMT
No clue what is being rebuilt as of yet, but most of the area has been torn down, with only the bar on the west end of the block and 3 or 4 stores on the east end left standing. The rest of the area in the middle has been dug down to basement level and new foundations seem to be under construction. I last drove by there about 5 or 6 days ago, and that is what I saw at that point, although I went by about 15 minutes after sunset, and the construction crews had gone home for the day.
Peter: 19th Jun 2006 - 15:01 GMT
WOW, what an epic post! im not sure how i missed this the first time, i guess it just slipped by when i was busy or something, but well done, eg! what a story.
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