Was heritage building deliberately torched?

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335 Yonge Street ruins viewed from Gould Street (top) and Yonge Street (below) today after investigators knocked down the top floor and began searching the rubble for evidence of arson. Bottom pic shows 335 Yonge after its top floor was removed.

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Police seeking “person of interest”: The search for the cause of Monday’s fire at 335 Yonge Street turned into a criminal arson investigation after Toronto police found evidence suggesting that someone had entered the property and left mere minutes before the blaze broke out. Nearby surveillance cameras captured pictures and video of a “person of interest” who spent nearly two and a half hours in the building in the middle of the night, leaving the scene shortly before someone saw flames and called the fire department.

Meanwhile, work crews used heavy machinery to tear down the top floor of the fire-charred structure today so pieces of rubble could be extricated and examined for evidence of arson (the ruins remain far too unsafe for investigators to enter). Still no word from the building’s owners or city officials as to what will happen with the site once the fire marshall’s office has concluded its investigation.

While speculation about arson and “demolition by neglect” continues to swirl in the local media, noted journalist Christie Blatchford examines the serious fire hazards posed by vacant and abandoned buildings in an insightful column in today’s Globe and Mail. Below: photos showing some of the demolition equipment in use at 335 Yonge today.

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