It was the early morning of May 25, 2017 when the tones went off. “Rescue 325, Pumper 333, Pumper 334, Pumper 325, Tower 333, Fireboat 334, Chief 33. Fire Commercial/Industrial 242 Cherry Street, Green For Life. South Tac 3.” It took Pumper 333 3 minutes and 33 seconds to have first visual on the scene. Within the captain’s first radio transmission he requested a 2nd Alarm. Two minutes later Tower 333 upgraded the call to a 3rd Alarm.
Just like the fire earlier in the year, the first incoming trucks were having an issue finding an ample water source. Once trucks arrived they started a hose relay into the scene. They had the fire boat on route which they could use for a water source. Within the first 10 minutes of Toronto Fire being on scene, Cherry Street Command (Chief 33 at the time) requested a 4th Alarm. Twenty minutes later Chief 30 took command. Then we heard, “ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! All Crews on scene at 242 Cherry Street this fire is defensive only, that is DEFENSIVE only. ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION!” Crews were setting up aerials and the tower to start a steady flow of water over the scene.
Spectacular aerial footage of a huge fire ripping in one of the pier in downtown Toronto pic.twitter.com/xmQbr6g6Ue
— The 4K Guy (@the4kguy) May 25, 2017
Once crews had the fire boat docked and set up as well as the aerials and tower this fire was strictly defensive. The fire boat can pull 39,000 litres/minute of lake water. With not being able to find a steady water source, having the fire boat there and able to pull water from Lake Ontario made fighting this fire a little easier. Toronto Fire has now been on scene for approximately 40 minutes with no major improvement and we hear;
Cherry Street Command: Toronto fire this is Cherry command can you upgrade this to a 5th Alarm
Toronto Fire: Wilco Command, 5th Alarm.
Then you heard the 5th Alarm dispatch
“Pumper 426, Rescue 345, Squad 331, Chief 42. Fifth Alarm, 242 Cherry Street, Green For Life. South Strategic 1”
After being on scene for just over 45 minutes Cherry Street Command requests Box 12. For those who aren’t aware Box 12 is our sister truck. They respond to the South and West Commands and Support 7 responds to the East and North Commands. Then you hear “Toronto Fire, Chief 1 is on scene.”
Within 70 minutes of being on scene crews started to notice the building’s structural integrity was weakened. Command made sure all crews were a safe distance away from the building. When it comes to fighting these big fires you never really know what potentially could be stored at their facility. Crews noticed that in some of the trailers there were tanks with unknown substances inside. This causes a problem to the firefighters because could what is inside cause them harm. It could be explosive or it could be nothing. They have to treat it as if there are explosive materials until they know otherwise.
Then if you think it couldn’t get any worse, you would be wrong. Over the radio comes;
“All apparatus be advised URGENT! URGENT! URGENT! All relay operations to be shut down at Cherry and Commissioner.” Now they have an unknown substance they have to protect, a 5th alarm fire that isn’t under control yet and they need to shut the water supply down.
With all of this going on Toronto Fire is still are handling calls happening in the downtown district due to the traveling smoke from this fire. Trucks were being dispatched for people who are smelling smoke and when they arrived it was nothing but the smoke from Cherry Street.
It took Toronto Fire 11.5 hours to get the fire under control. From that point on they had to find all the hot spots and extinguish them. They had to send relief crews in to replace the crews that had been there for hours.
Support 7 was at Toryork for its semi-annual inspection when the 6th Alarm started. At approximately 11:00 AM Support 7 went back in service and was heading back to its home at Station 223 when Toronto Fire requested Support 7 to relieve Box 12 at the Cherry Street fire. Larry Thorne, the chauffeur, took the truck straight to the scene. Our phone chain was activated to get our Support 7 crew going. Grab your radio, grab the address and we were on the road. With it hitting the noon hour, most crews that were on scene had missed lunch and the look on their faces when we arrived with food and hot drinks was very much appreciated. Sadly Support 7’s time on scene was cut short when we noticed a mechanical issue. Luckily the Mechanical Division was on scene and tried to fix the issue but notified us that we needed to be towed. Cutting our call short.
Below are some photographs of apparatus on scene of the 6th Alarm. Thank you to Larry Thorne and Mykhail Baehr for the pictures and 4K Guy for the amazing video.