A number of Etobicoke businesses have been evacuated after a fire broke out outside the equipment rental businesses Tuesday afternoon, swallowing dozens of propane tanks.
The three alarm fire was first reported at about 3:40 p.m. at a company near Racine Road and Brydon Drive, near Kipling Street and Rixdale Street.
Fire Chief Matthew Page says that when crews arrived they encountered a “severe fire that hit several propane and compressed gas cylinders on the outside of the building” and immediately took a defensive posture.
He said that the fire eventually spread to several parked cars but that their crews were able to control it before it spread to the building itself.
“These are very complex and dangerous fires for our crews as they have to get close enough in order to deploy ground monitors – unmanned water flow monitors – and air towers, and the main objective is to keep these cylinders cool,” he said. “I am happy to say that the fire is now under control and there are no reports of injuries.”
Pegg said he has been told that some propane tanks outside the company weigh up to 100 pounds.
There have been reports of explosions as the flames catch on, although crews have yet to determine if any of the propane tanks have actually exploded.
The cause of the fire itself is still unclear.
“It’s very hard to distinguish when the accident is live whether it’s a blowout or a pressure relief valve venting.
Officers attend the scene of a fire and explosion in Etobicoke. (Shawn McInnes/CTV News Toronto)
Any flammable or pressurized gas cylinder is fitted with a pressure relief valve, so in the event of a heat collision it will release a pressure relief valley. You’ll release the gas, and there will be ignition of that gas, but it’s designed to prevent that cylinder from actually exploding,” Page said.
“So it’s entirely possible that initially there was a gas vent, there could have been a number of sounds that sounded like an explosion and part of our responsibility once the fire is fully extinguished will be to do the origin and cause the investigation that will happen scientifically to determine if there was an explosion. whether or not but it is too early to confirm that.”
At the height of the fire there were approximately 30 different devices and 100 firefighters on site, but Begg said the response has since been scaled back.
He said it would have been a “very difficult accident” that “would have been very significant”, had it not been for the actions of the Toronto firefighters.
“It was very well managed and they got it under control very quickly,” he said.
Racine Road between Martin Grove Road and Kipling Street remains closed as a result of the fire.