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article imageUnknown when 1,200 residents at Toronto highrise can return home Special

By Andrew Moran     Sep 27, 2010 in World
Toronto - Officials from the city of Toronto, Toronto Community Housing and the city's fire services provided the general public an update of the current situation of the Wellesley Street apartment building that caught on fire and left more than 1,200 homeless.
Digital Journal reported over the weekend about the major fire that took place at a Wellesley Street East apartment building on Friday that has left more than 1,200 people homeless. As of Friday, Toronto Community Housing (TCH) has served approximately 1,800 meals.
It was later reported that the St. James Town highrise had bed bug, cockroach and mouse infestations and there were numerous issues with the equipment, sprinklers and utility rooms. One tenant even noted various smells in the building.
Wellesley Street East apartment buildings.
Wellesley Street East apartment buildings.
Hundreds of the building’s residents have now sought shelter at the Wellesley Street community centre – across the street from the apartment building – and another community centre located at 255 McCaul Street. Many tenants are also staying with friends and family.
On Monday, officials from the city of Toronto, TCH and the Fire Marshal’s office provided an update to the general public at a press conference held in front of the Wellesley Street highrise where dozens of firefighters are on scene.
“The building did suffer extensive damage as a result of the fire, it did impact things like the light safety systems in the building,” said Rob Andrusevich, a spokesperson for the City of Toronto. “We’re still at a point where we’re taking things day by day and we’re updating residents as we speak.”
Division Commander of Toronto Fire Services  Bob O Hallaran.
Division Commander of Toronto Fire Services, Bob O'Hallaran.
Andrusevich later told reporters that they are unable to inform residents when they can return to their homes or retrieve any items, including their identification, which has been a primary concern for the victims.
He did note, however, that city workers are working as quickly as they can “to get people back into the units“ and are also seeking cash donations or gift certificates for the Wellesley Street residents.
“Part of our investigation will be to consider the condition of that apartment prior to the fire,” said division commander of Toronto Fire Services, Bob O’Hallaran. “The entire building does have some water or smoke damage.”
A representative from TCH explained that the building was up to current code and had been inspected “within the last four weeks.” She further added that they are developing a long-term plan that would accommodate residents in the future.
Toronto Community Housing representative.
Toronto Community Housing representative.
The TCH representative said that Toronto Animal Services have taken care of all the pets and have made sure there is food and water and are properly being cared for.
“Our concern is for the safety of our residents and this building was meeting the coding standards.”
Right now, the most important items needed are underwear, socks, clothing, shoes, school supplies, blankets, towels and sanitary items such as toilet paper. Baby clothes and furniture are not a need at this point.
More about Toronto, Wellesley apartment buildings, Fire
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