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Scene: Fire at Queen and Soho

In the midst of Sandy, a downtown fire guts a Queen Street building.

WHERE: 369 Queen Street West, at Soho

WHEN: Tuesday October 30, 1:40 a.m.

WHAT: Though it happened at the peak of Sandy’s roll through Toronto, officials haven’t yet confirmed the cause of an overnight fire at Queen and Soho. The three-alarm blaze started at about 12:30 a.m.; officials cordoned off the street while they fought flames, warning of blowing glass and a potential building collapse. The Black Bull Tavern is across the street; staff told us that they felt the fire’s explosion from inside the bar. (They also mentioned spotting several people trying to loot the Roots store that’s on the main floor of the 369.) No injuries were reported, and an investigation is ongoing.

UPDATE, 10:05 AM: The 501 Queen streetcar is still diverting around this section of the street (via Church, King, and Shaw) as the investigation and clean-up continue.

UPDATE, 10:25 PM: From the Globe: “Andrew Kostiuk, a division commander with Toronto Fire, said Monday night’s storm had absolutely nothing to do with the fire. Arson is not being ruled out at this time.”

With reporting by Christopher Drost.


  • Rob R.

    That’s a pretty
    convenient fire -seeing as how the neighboring former Silver Snail and
    C-Squared were slated to be turned into a 3 level mini-mall.

    • Paul Kishimoto

      My thought exactly.

    • Anonymous

      I think you put your tinfoil hat on a bit too tight this morning…

      • J

        yes it would be unthinkable in toronto to wonder if an enormous fire in a heritage building that developers have all ready said they want to demolish is somehow nefarious.

        • Anonymous

          Unthinkable that this would happen in the midst of high winds, power outages, school closures, fires and uprooted trees?

          Loosen the hat dude. Wait for the professionals to asses it.

          • Christopher Drost

            Speaking with the staff at the Bull + seeing a lamp ballast and glass chunks no bigger than a marble all over the north side of queen + the fact it’s a perfect controlled collapse and toronto police forensic ident squad were arriving when i was leaving says a lot more to me that something is fishy than stormy.

          • Anonymous

            Speaking with the staff? Lamp ballast and glass chunks? Ident squad coming to investigate (standard in all fires)


          • vampchick21

            According to all the newspaper reports I am reading, authorities are calling it suspcious at this time. Or, you know, you can keep on mocking on the internet instead of reading the applicable newspaper articles that mention that very possibility, whatever floats your boat.

          • Anonymous

            I’m mocking Christopher Drost’s “evidence”. With no conclusion, anything is possible at this point. Fire-breathing unicorns could have set it on fire! ZOMG!

          • vampchick21

            maybe if you weren’t such a total jerk about it. How about that? Ever occur to you to be less of an ass?

          • Anonymous

            Whoa, easy on the intolerance there!

          • vampchick21

            Easy on the acting like a jerk and then we’ll talk.

          • Anonymous

            It’s okay, I forgive you.

          • Christopher Drost

            those fire breathing unicorns sure are something eh?

          • Anonymous


          • vampchick21

            Professionals are already stating, and have been since yesterday, that the fire is suspicious and not likely caused by the storm.

    • Anonymous

      Silver Snail is (was?) also a heritage property, meaning complications for redevelopment. I wonder if the fire was meant to spread farther…

    • Anonymous

      See 10:25 p.m. update with more news on the fire’s cause.

  • Anonymous

    If development-related arson is a natural assumption at this point, does it mean the punishment property owners/developers face isn’t enough to dissuade them?

  • D-Man

    I was near the explosion and out on the street in under 90 seconds.

    The second floor of 369 Queen St W was fully ablaze. A guy pulled a mannequin’s arm out of the storefront debris by its hand, then realized it wasn’t human. Glass was sprayed clear across Queen, and the alley between the building and its easterly neighbour (formerly Silver Snail) was heaped with rubble.

    I took a couple quick shots of the flames and called 911. The fire crew arrived on the scene while I was on the line. Nice work 332 and whoever else came to assist. Flames and sparks leapt high from the back of the building requiring a multi-angled attack, with at one pumper in the alley and four out front. Much later on, an Enbridge truck showed up.

    I’m no expert on this, but the speed at which the building erupted into flames is troubling. Imagine a volatile hydrocarbon leak, going into solution with air… once ignited, it should form a quick and violent blast, then burn itself out, no? How much polish remover (acetone) would have to be in that nail salon to provide a sufficient secondary accelerant?

    Grand time to do it if it was arson, under high winds to fan the flames and the cover of Sandy’s chaos. If that’s what it was, fuck them for putting people at risk, I hope the surrounding buildings (Snail and Peter Pan) stand.