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Toronto Ontario Fire Marshal finds ‘catastrophic’ electrical failure that triggered multiple explosions at 650 Parliament St. led to 2018 fire

Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal found a “catastrophic” electrical failure that triggered multiple explosions at 650 Parliament St. led to an August, 2018, fire that displaced the building’s residents, Toronto’s fire chief says.

Toronto Fire Services Chief Matthew Pegg, who received the fire investigation and fire engineering reports on Monday, said in a statement that he will be reviewing them “in detail in order to gain a full understanding as to the origin, cause and circumstance analysis that has been completed.”

The long-awaited reports have not been made public.

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The building’s manager, Wellesley Parliament Square Property Management, also received a copy of the documents Monday and spokesman Danny Roth said in an e-mail statement: “The OFM’s engineers also confirm that the building was compliant with the applicable Electrical Code and did not find it lacked any components that were legally required.”

At a press conference in August to mark the one-year anniversary of the fire, the company said that more than $50-million had been spent on reconstruction efforts at the St. James Town building, which housed roughly 1,500 residents. About $13-million has been provided in tenant assistance and relocation efforts.

Rebecca Gondos, who has moved four times since being forced from her unit, says she is currently living in a Yorkville apartment that costs about four times her rent at 650 Parliament St. The property management company is reimbursing her for the additional costs.

“The worst of it is over and that’s why I’m hoping we can go home soon,” Ms. Gondos said.

News of the explosions preceding the fire came as a surprise to Ms. Gondos, whose husband was in their unit for several hours while the apparent explosions happened.

Chief Pegg said an electrical failure led to an explosion in the electrical room, and “smaller explosions and fires throughout the building.” He said he would reserve further comments until he has had an opportunity to review the full reports.

After several delays in the move-in date, Ms. Gondos said she is trying to remain hopeful that the company can stick to the current November, 2019, target to get residents back in the building.

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“I’d love to be home by Christmas,” she said. “That would absolutely a big load off both of our minds, and it would allow us to finally get our lives back in order.”

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