Suspicious fire sparks fear in Byng Ave. community

The house at 141 Byng Ave., was still under construction on Sept. 25 when it was consumed by flames that residents say were higher than the treeline. 

Toronto police are asking residents near Pharmacy Avenue and Danforth Road for assistance in their investigation of a suspicious fire which erupted early Tuesday morning.

According to police, a male person of interest offered a statement at the local police station, but was later released. No one has been charged.

At 6:15 a.m., the fire department received a call that the house at 141 Byng Ave. was in flames. District Chief Stephan Powell said it turned out there were two houses ablaze and both were under construction.

“The wind was fanning the flames,” Powell said. “It was basically a good inferno and it took us about an hour to bring the fire under control.”

By the time the fire was doused, only skeletal remnants of the buildings were left. There were no injuries, but houses several lots down on either side of the fire were damaged as the fire spread. Members of the community were visibly shaken.

“I was sitting in my kitchen and I saw right from the back of my house that my whole front wall was lit up. Then I knew something was wrong,” a next-door neighbour said. “The flames were unbelievable. I thought the whole street was on fire.”

Toronto police and the Ontario Fire Marshall’s office are investigating to determine the cause of the fire. Staff Sgt. Kenny Ho explained that a fire is deemed suspicious if there is reason to believe that the fire was not accidental.

“We received information from the neighbours that they smelled gasoline before they saw the flames,” Ho said. “We have to determine whether it was careless storage of the gasoline or if someone put gasoline on the house and set it on fire.”

Police also discovered two houses as well as a vehicle in the area that had been covered in gasoline. They have not yet determined whether the fire was the result of arson.

About this article

By: Aldis Brennan
Copy editor: Sunnie Huang
Posted: Sep 28 2012 6:52 pm
Filed under: News