Hundreds displaced by a fire that left one person dead at a highrise residential building in North York have been told they won't be able to move back into their apartments just yet. One person was found dead after the blaze.
Charles Jansen, director the city's Office of Emergency Management, said before people can be allowed back in, investigations have to be carried out to determine the safety of the building and whether the electricity can be turned on.
"We want to make sure it's perfectly safe before we bring anybody back in. Until then, we'll certainly be looking after their needs," Jansen said at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
Displaced residents have sought shelter at the nearby Driftwood Community Recreation Centre at 4401 Jane St, North York, where Jansen said a reception centre has been set up.
"There are about 354 occupants that we know of in the building and about 100 have so far registered at our reception centre," Jansen said.
"We are encouraging residents to look towards family and friends first and foremost if they have an opportunity, but if they don't, certainly to register at the Driftwood facility so that we have their name and their information and what their needs are."
York U opens emergency shelter facilities
Meanwhile, Jansen said York University has stepped up and opened emergency shelter facilities to assist the displaced residents.
"As of tomorrow we are going to start the process of relocating a lot of these residents to York University where we will be able to look after them for a little bit longer until the building is to a point where we can start to move people back in," he said.
Jansen also said the city's emegency management office is holding discussions with other stakeholders to see what the longer term solutions will be.
Jennifer Omoruyi says she moved into the residential building — at 235 Gosford Boulevard, near Jane Street and Steeles Avenue West — in May with her three-year-old and five-month-old sons.
She's among residents who have sought shelter at the nearby Driftwood community centre.
"It's been just crazy. My floor is affected so I really don't have anywhere to go. I wish they do something about it really fast," Omoruyi told CBC Toronto on Saturday.
"The urgent shelter bed, my five-month-old can't sleep on it and it's not big enough to say maybe I could hold him and stay on it. So, it's just really difficult. I haven't really slept since last night so it's really difficult for me and my little kids."
Omoruyi says it's also very cold inside the community centre.
"I don't know if they can't bring a heater or something. It's just not comfortable," she says.
"This happening during winter time is just the worst time for it to happen."
Outpouring of support for displaced residents
Scores of nearby residents have been pouring into the community centre all day with clothes and other supplies for the displaced residents.
"Even hearing the news, it was so devastating. It's close to us so... just in our little way, we could be of help," as she delivered water and some non-perishable items, accompanied by her daughter Andrea.
MairiAnna Bachynsky from the Canadian Red Cross said representatives from her office have been at the centre since Friday night providing basic services and making sure the residents are secure, safe and comfortable.
She said while people are eager to help and the tragedy brings out the humanity of Torontonians, they should not bring donations like clothing to the centre.
"We love the kindness that it brings out in people. However, in situations like these we ask that people do not bring donations of that kind particularly because we are stocked with the basics that we need to meet people's immediate needs," Bachynsky said.
"The time that it takes for sorting and distribution of these are times that we need to spend with the residents who have been out of their homes for the day and to meet their needs."