Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
The exact cause of the fire was never determined but it levelled nearly 20 acres of land and over 5,000 jobs were lost, at least temporarily.
"The weather in Toronto on the evening of 19 April, 1904, was cold and blustery. The air temperature was below freezing (24° F) and snow flurries were occurring accompanied by strong winds from the northwest at 30mph. All was quiet in the heart of Toronto's mercantile area. Few people were on the streets as almost all the buildings in the area had been closed since 6 p.m. At 8:04 p.m., a police constable patrolling his beat in the area saw flames shooting skyward from the elevator shaft of the Currie Building, 58 Wellington St. and immediately turned in an alarm. Before the resulting conflagration was extinguished, it would destroy approximately 100 buildings, causing a property loss of $10,350,000."
Fire fighters and equipment from many other communities answered the call for help and continued to arrive throughout the night from places as far away as Hamilton, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Brantford, London and Peterborough.
In total, over 250 firefighters helped fight the blaze and used between 9.5 and 11 million litres of water (between 2 and 2.5 million gallons) of water. There were five injuries, including Fire Chief John Thompson who broke his leg in a fall. Fortunately, no lives were lost but the fire, which lasted less than 9 hours, dealt a serious blow to the commercial heart of the city.
To learn more about the Great Toronto Fire follow these links.