Careless smoking causes fire at 650 Parliament Street, Toronto

By Amanda Ly.


A two alarm fire broke out in an apartment building at 650 Parliament St. at Wellesley, on Sunday November 9.  According to residents and Doug Setall, the property manager, the fire started at about 12 p.m. Firefighters at the scene told Setall that someone from the 15th floor or onwards discarded their cigarette butt from their balcony, which then landed on furniture that was on the balcony of Apt. 1403 where the blaze took place. It’s impossible to say where it came from, Setall said. Neither Dean Tursic, superintendent, or Setall would reveal the name(s) of the resident(s) from Apt. 1403.

“This fire was completely preventable.  There were two mistakes: a careless smoker and keeping flammable furniture on the balcony,” said Setall, shaking his head in disappointment. 

Every month, a newsletter which includes fire safety and prevention is distributed to residents, Setall said. He speculates that the fire was discovered by the smoke detectors in the hallways which alerted the fire department. 

Amazingly, the fire did not spread to the rest of the building. It was mostly contained in that apartment, with minimal damages sustained by the apartment directly below.  

Residents were allowed to return to their apartments later that evening, Setall said. 

The walls of the 14th floor are stained with soot and the ceiling is completely black. The faint smell of smoke assaults the senses.  The flames tarnished the white balcony black, which captivate neighbors who stop to marvel at the ugly blemish and speculate about what may have happened and who the possible perpetrators could be.  A pile of debris sits in the middle of Apt. 1403.  An upside down couch in the corner is the only remnant left of a life destroyed. Tursic revealed to the mailman that the resident(s) would be relocated to Apt. 1601 and mail should be forwarded to that address. Damages are estimated to be around $15,000 – $20,000 and will take about a month to renovate, Setall said. 

William Mckeown, 63, lives in apartment 1422. He did not evacuate even though he said he could barely breathe because the smoke was so thick and the smell was so acrid. Mckeown had just come home from the hospital a few weeks ago and said he didn’t have the strength to make it down all those stairs. Instead, he put a damp towel at the foot of his door and “hoped for the best,” he said.  

            “The fire lasted for hours,” Mckeown said.

Toronto Fire District 31 responded to the blaze. No one was available to answer questions concerning injuries, exact time of fire, duration of fire, road closures, or whether it was called in by a resident 

Firefighter Devo Bennett, of 33 Division, who was not at the scene, said that firefighters assess each situation individually rather than follow a one size fits all evacuation policy. In regards to Mckeown not being evacuated, Bennett said that the superintenent would inform the firefighters of any elderly, sick, or disabled residents that would be vulnerable in dangerous situations, but would not speculate on how firefighters specifically dealt with the blaze that day.


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