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Not one, but two enormous fires broke out at townhouse complexes in the GTHA over the past 24 hours, displacing dozens of people from multiple units.
The first blaze started around 2 p.m. on Sunday in a neighbourhood on Weldrick Road near Yonge Street in Richmond Hill.
My house caught fire last year & today at 3pm my first home (townhouse in Richmond Hill Ont) is up in flames! what are the odds? It’s crazy, I think about fire many, many times a day, every day… something once so distant & abstract is now a prominent force in my consciousness. pic.twitter.com/Qh84WNA8vj
— Conor Duffy (@cduffyduff) July 26, 2020
The flames and smoke were so thick — made worse by the extreme summer temperatures (the region was under a heat warning) — that firefighters were called in from neighbouring municipalities to help battle the inferno.
A total of 16 individual homes were affected by the “out of control” blaze, Deputy Fire Chief Bryan Burbidge told media yesterday afternoon while crews of nearly 60 continued to struggle to get things under control.
Firefighters from @VaughanFire @RHFES @CentralYorkFire are on scene of a fire in a Richmond Hill townhouse complex on Sunday afternoon. Emergency services got the call at around 2 p.m. At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown. @ChiefKraft @derynrizzi @chieflaing @YRP pic.twitter.com/60elLnaKPW
— jeremyreigber (@jeremy_reigber) July 26, 2020
Dark smoke blanketed the area and could be seen from quite a ways off, but thankfully, the buildings were all evacuated safely and no one was injured.
Officials are still looking into how and where the fire started.
Vaughan Fire is on location of Weldrick Road East for a structure fire in Richmond Hill as part of a mutual aid response with Richmond Hill, Markham & Central York Fire Services. This multi-agency response is required for a large residential fire involving 6 out of 8 townhouses. pic.twitter.com/x20d590NSA
— Vaughan Fire (@VaughanFire) July 26, 2020
About 12 hours later and one hour southwest, a second huge fire erupted in yet another townhouse complex, this time in Hamilton starting around 2:40 a.m.
A total of 11 units in the city’s Stoney Creek neighbourhood near Fifty Raod and the QEW ended up being severely structurally damaged.
Big townhouse fire in Hamilton this morning – up to 11 units affected. https://t.co/QDaUiZroMl
— Lisa Drew (@lisadrewradio) July 27, 2020
Crews told CP24 at the scene that high winds overnight helped to carry the blaze from one of the three-storey structures to multiple others.
“We had heavy winds from the South,” Fire Chief Dave Cunliffe told the news outlet this morning. “Crews did a tremendous job cutting this fire off. We have two aerials in operation at this location. They went to the north and quickly cut it off from getting into the next block of eight.”
#HamOnt fire crews are battling a multiple alarm structure fire involving at least 11 townhouse units. Heavy fire in most of the units. pic.twitter.com/SAzSF8sCcc
— Hamilton Fire Dept (@HamiltonFireDep) July 27, 2020
As with the Richmond Hill fire, the source of the fire is still unknown, and no one was injured during the incident.
Firefighters will apparently be on the scene for most of the day to put out the still-burning hotspots.
Thank you Hamilton Fire Department for your services…..good to know no one was hurt but….what devastation..💔💔🇨🇦🙏
— Barb Haines (@BarbHaines5) July 27, 2020
Locals were quick to thank the brave first responders who helped contain and quell both catastrophes. Meanwhile, Red Cross will be helping those whose homes were destroyed with food and shelter.