Apartment residents remain homeless and powerless

It's been one week and counting and the lights are still out at 3650 Kingston Rd. with the exception of emergency lights running on a generator.
It's been one week and counting and the lights are still out at 3650 Kingston Rd. with the exception of emergency lights running on a generator. (Matthew Alleyne/Toronto Observer) (kingston_033009)

A week after an electrical explosion that left the Guildwood Village Condo complex powerless, more than 500 residents were still not allowed to return home.

The residents of 3650 Kingston Rd. were forced to evacuate after an explosion in the condo complex led to a chain reaction that destroyed a Toronto Hydro transformer next to the building.

The explosion happened on March 19 at 2:30 a.m., destroying one wall of the electrical room and leaving both the nine-storey condo complex and several townhouses on the complex’s west side without power.

Fire officials led an evacuation that took place over several hours throughout the morning.

“We were just told to evacuate,” said Lavindra Thurairatnam, who was waiting outside with his family. “I don’t even know why, or when we can go back home.”

Police made the determination to evacuate the entire building “in the interest of safety,” said Insp. Bernadette Button from 43 Division.

“There is no fire protection, there are no elevators, and there is no power in the building,” said Bob O’Hallarn, Toronto Fire division commander.

City spokesman Patricia Trott says the temporary shelter at the Scarborough Village Recreation Centre was used to house 30 people the first night. It remained open past the first 24 hours due to the need.

Residents were allowed last weekend under escort to return home to pick up needed personal items, such as clothing and medication.

“The recreation centre is stilling being used as an information centre for residents where they can find further information on city services,” Trott says.

“Some families have been provided with hotel accommodations until Saturday March 28, and extensions will be addressed on a case-by-case bases.”

Unlike the event that took place earlier this year on Secord Ave., which left 900 people displaced for six weeks, this explosion was isolated to an electrical room and an outdoor transformer, and not a hydro vault, O’Hallarn said.

But after a week, there still has been no cause for the explosion given by the condo’s management.

Trott says that work on restoring power continues but it may take some time since there was extensive damage.