York Memo Fire Statement – more questions than answers.

Seeing Through the School (file)

A confidential report on the York Memorial School fires of May 6th and 7th has been completed by the Ontario Fire Marshal based on investigations into the cause of the blaze that devastated the historic structure. The public will not see it for some time but a copy is now in the hands of Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg.

A spokesperson for  the OFM said yesterday that the fire was one event and was accidental in nature.

“This was a single-event fire originating within the wall cavities of the structure in the area of the school auditorium,”

Once the statement was released it was clear that was to be no further comment from any involved parties until more information is available. The Toronto District School Board is scrambling to make the former Scarlett Heights Academy available for the approximately 1000 students and staff on September 3rd and would not comment.

Readers may remember that Chief Pegg at the time called the May 7th blaze, ‘Separate and distinct’. While it’s now clear that there was one cause and that it was accidental (which is some good news at least), the statement has reporters and members of the public examining the chicken entrails in order to tease out more information. These troubling questions remain unanswered:

  • If this was a single fire that managed to smoulder overnight and re-emerge the following afternoon, who was responsible?
  • Was the Toronto Fire Department at fault in not killing the fire on May 6th?
  • Should there have been TDSB or TFD personnel on fire watch overnight at the school?
  • Why did Chief Pegg say there were two separate and distinct fires?
  • Can the school be saved or will it have to be demolished?
  • What about other old schools in Toronto – are students at risk?

No doubt there is much to be learned from the fire. Let’s hope the report and its recommendations can be released soon so that these and other questions can be answered.