Samples of burnt debris taken from the scene of last week’s massive Somerset Street fire will be sent for testing today, as Ontario Fire Marshal investigators seek to confirm what caused the blaze that left 31 people homeless.
A gas chromatograph will be used at the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto to test the sample for any trace of an ignitable substance, fire investigator William Hiscott said. Once the centre receives the samples, it’s expected that it will take six to eight weeks to get the results.
He said the investigation was made more difficult than most because the building had already collapsed. “We had to remove debris first to get to the area,” he said. “We had to make sure it was safe before going in, because the collapse was pretty severe.”
In addition to leaving 31 people homeless, the early morning fire destroyed three buildings and caused substantial damage to a building still standing at 815 and 817 Somerset St. West. Hiscott estimates the total value of the damage at millions of dollars.
Hiscott said the suspected origin of the fire is not being released because the investigation is ongoing, but he said it was in a building between 807 and 811 Somerset St.
“As far as I know, we don’t have anything that connects this fire with any other,” said Hiscott.
The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office is continuing to help city police’s arson unit with the case while they await results from the lab.
Police are still in the process of interviewing residents.