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650 Parliament fire caused by 'catastrophic failure' of electrical system: OFM

Last Updated Sep 9, 2019 at 4:21 pm EST

Emergency crews respond to a fire at a highrise near Parliament and Bloor streets on Aug. 21, 2018. CITYNEWS/Tony Fera

The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has determined the fire at 650 Parliament St. that displaced more than 1,500 residents was caused by a “catastrophic failure” of the building’s electrical system, which caused an explosion in the electrical room.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg tweeted the results of the investigation on Monday, saying the explosion resulted in smaller explosions and fires throughout the building.

An initial investigation into the cause of the fire yielded similar results, determining the blaze was caused by a major electrical failure.

The tenants displaced by the fire are expected to be able to move back in November after the re-occupancy date was pushed back several times, frustrating many of the residents.

In an update in August, Danny Roth, a spokesperson for Wellesley-Parliament Square (WPSQ) management, said re-occupancy is expected to commence “later this fall.” At the time, work in the building was around 65 per cent complete.

Back in March, management said more than $20-million of an estimated $25- $30-million had been spent to fix all the damage to the building. As well, another $10 million has been spent to assist tenants since the fire.

Lawyers for the residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against building management to get compensation for expenses and other losses.

After the fire at 650 Parliament and a basement flood at nearby 260 Wellesley St. E., Mayor John Tory ordered a comprehensive series of inspections would be carried out in apartment buildings in St. James Town and other areas around the city.

Correction: Toronto Hydro has been dropped from the lawsuit from residents.