Encampment fire at Toronto cell tower leaves one dead: police, fire officials

TORONTO — A fire at an encampment for homeless residents in Toronto's west end left one person dead early Saturday morning, police and fire officials said.

Toronto Police Const. Laura Brabant said officers responded to multiple reports of a cell tower on fire in the bustling downtown Liberty Village neighbourhood shortly after 6 a.m.

Fire Capt. Bill Papakonstantinou said emergency crews arrived and extinguished the blaze before discovering an encampment in the area.

One person was found dead right at the base of the fire, he said.

"It appears that the person was underneath the tower, whether they're living there or temporarily situated there," said Papakonstantinou.

"There seems to be some kind of temporary enclosure in the area so it looks as if the person was there."

A multi-jurisdictional investigation between Toronto Fire, the Office of the Chief Coroner, the Office of the Fire Marshal and Toronto Police is underway, he added.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg told media at the scene the investigation will focus on finding the origin, cause and circumstances of the deadly fire.

"It's a comprehensive process, often takes a considerable amount of time," he told CP24.

Pegg said there is some evidence of "heat impingement" on the nearby cell tower but no indication of significant damage.

He said Toronto Fire offers its "deepest condolences to family, friends and all those impacted by this loss today."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2023.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press