On 18 April 2017 at around 8:30 pm, a fire started on the roof of MGCI. No one was injured by the flames and there was no significant damage.

A small fire began on the roof of MGCI. Photo: TorontoToronah/YouTube

The construction work on the roof was deemed the indirect cause of the fire. Earlier in the day, construction workers were working on fusing two pieces of galvanized steel to conjoin two roofs. Above the steel, there was a piece of wood with tarp hauling covering the section to keep it dry. The workers had used a welding torch to fuse the steel together. According to protocol, workers must remain on site for two hours after a torch is used in case of fire. The protocol was followed but later in the evening, investigators concluded that a spark must have remained lodged in the wooden beam. This spark began the fire.

Because the fire occurred outside the school, no fire alarms were set off. A passerby saw flames on the roof and called 9-1-1. The tarp also prevented smoke from escaping and instead forced it to move downwards into the building. At this time, the fire alarms went off and the caretakers called the fire department. Emergency services and school caretakers notified the TDSB as well.

The fire was quickly extinguished and caused minimal damage. Only sections of the roof above the gym and weight room were harmed. However, when firefighters were extinguishing the flames, an additional eight by two foot section of the roof was cut out to ensure that all the sparks in the immediate vicinity were gone. As a result, the gym and weight room were closed for an additional two days and were not opened until 21 April.

The TDSB immediately sent a Task Force to survey the school, testing the air quality and structural integrity. One aspect of concern was the smoke that had entered the school. The smoke left behind residue that was not clearly visible, but could cause students and staff to cough. To prevent any health problems, the Task Force wiped down every flat surface and fans were used to clear the smoke from the school.

MGCI’s principal Ms. Goldenberg credits the caretakers and the Task Force with the quick cleanup and response to the fire. She is appreciative of their hard work to open MGCI as soon as possible, saying, “They were amazing.”

With regards to the possibility of this situation reoccurring, Ms. Goldenberg said, “If anyone is worried about it [fire], they have nothing to worry about. The protocol was being followed, it’s even being extra followed.”