Man facing 7 charges after Yonge Street fire displaces at least a dozen residents

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Man facing 7 charges after Yonge Street fire displaces at least a dozen residents

A Toronto man is facing seven charges in connection with an early morning fire that sent one person to hospital with serious injuries, left at least one animal dead and displaced at least a dozen residents of a midtown building.

Fire crews were called to the low-rise building at 1989 Yonge Street, which has a Rogers retail outlet at street level and two floors of apartments above, around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

They found a fire on the second floor. 

Toronto police said Tuesday afternoon that a 34-year-old man had "made threats" to start a fire and harm pets. Police allege the man set the fire and then barricaded himself inside the apartment.

Despite knocking down the blaze quickly, several apartment units have been deemed unlivable, District Chief Stephan Powell told CBC Toronto.

Many of the eight residential units sustained some damage, Powell said. Some units just have minor smoke damage, while others were damaged by fire. 

Between 12 and 15 occupants have been displaced, he said. While he confirmed that one cat died in the blaze, Toronto police said in a news release that the fire caused "the death of some pets."

Cause of blaze unknown

Paramedics said one patient was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

"Anytime somebody has a fire in the middle of the night and you become displaced it can be very tough because it's your home, that's where you sleep, that's where your belongings are, that's where you start your day from," Powell said. "It can be quite a traumatic experience."

Yonge Street was closed in both directions at the height of the blaze but has since reopened, Powell said.

Powell said it was too early to speculate about the cause of the blaze. Investigators with the Toronto Fire Service and the Ontario fire marshal's office were expected to attend the scene.

The accused is charged with:

- Arson having disregard for human life.

- Arson causing property damage.

- Uttering threats to cause property damage.

- Uttering threats to harm animals.

- Kill, maim or wound animals.

- Mischief over $5,000.

- Assault.

He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-5300 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS.