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Scarborough bomb scare leads to massive evacuation

A poorly parked van rigged with unusual equipment caused a massiveevacuation in the city’s northeast end yesterday, displacing thousandsof people, paralyzing afternoon rush-hour traffic and even promptingpolice to clear the air space above.

A poorly parked van rigged with unusual equipment caused a massive evacuation in the city’s northeast end yesterday, displacing thousands of people, paralyzing afternoon rush-hour traffic and even prompting police to clear the air space above.

The red cube van had been parked along Eglinton Avenue East, near Centennial College’s Ashtonbee campus. In the early afternoon, its owner, a 27-year-old Centennial student, came out to find it gone, not knowing it had been towed to an impound lot. He called police to tell them this was no ordinary van.

“He was worried about the vehicle because it had some type of an alternative fuel engine,” said Rosanna Cavallaro, associate vice-president of marketing and communications for Centennial.

That phone call — and the police discovery the van sat near a large propane tank — triggered a five-hour scare that saw police going door-to-door urging people to get out in a 1.6-kilometre radius of the van. Police say as many as 2,500 people were affected by the evacuation order.

Businesses and residences were emptied from an area bordered by Steeles Avenue East to the north, Finch Avenue East to the south, Morningside Avenue to the east and Middlefield Road to the west.

Toronto fire officials looked at what was in the van, how much propane was in the tank, started doing the calculations and came up with the 1.6-kilometre figure.

 
 
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