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Displaced residents slowly going back home after racquet club fire

Firefighters battle a six-alarm fire at the Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto on Clair Avenue West at Yonge Street on Feb. 14, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Residents of six condo buildings that were evacuated at the height of Tuesday’s massive six-alarm fire in midtown Toronto are slowly being allowed back in on Thursday. However, many are going to be dealing with smoke damage.

More than 120 firefighters were called to the Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday and were met head-on by a ravenous fire that was quickly spreading. The fire forced the evacuation of surrounding buildings and businesses. Firefighters were using condo balconies to douse the hot spots and monitor any potential flare-ups.

Thousands of litres of water were poured onto the fire, flooding basements and parking garages in many of the surrounding buildings.

It could be weeks before some of the businesses can reopen.

Video: Evacuees return to homes, businesses after massive racquet club fire. Click here to view on mobile.

It’s not yet known what started the blaze, which broke out on the second floor of the racquet club at 25 St. Clair Ave. W., but Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop said on Wednesday it didn’t appear suspicious.

He said it could take weeks or months to determine the cause.

The fire was burning for over 12 hours, Jessop said. Crews had to use seven elevated devices, something he has not seen for more than 20 years. He said the damage is expected to be more than $1 million.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries in the fire and have since been released from hospital.

In terms of road closures, all roads are open except the curb lane of southbound Yonge Street from St Clair Avenue to Rosehill Avenue.

The original building that houses the racquet club was built in the late 1800s by the Toronto and York Railway company. In 1921, the TTC took over the building and used it as a streetcar house. Then in 1924, it became the Toronto Badminton and Racquet Club.

Video: Yonge and St. Clair fire destroys a part of Toronto’s history. Click here to view on mobile.

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