TORONTO – Five employees with Toronto Community Housing have been fired after the agency says an internal investigation into a major blaze at a downtown apartment turned up evidence of wrongdoing.
The social housing provider says the probe was launched following a six-alarm fire that displaced some 1,200 residents in September 2010.
An errant cigarette butt ignited stacks of easily flammable materials on a 24th floor balcony of the building (at 300 Wellesley Street).
It says evidence of wrongdoing by several staffers at its subsidiary was discovered, leading to disciplinary action including the five terminations.
CEO Eugene Jones Jr. says findings from the investigation into post-fire insurance claims have been turned over to police to see if there are grounds for further investigation.
More than 600 people involved in a class-action lawsuit were awarded $4.85 million in compensation for lost property and injuries in the fire.
Mayor Rob Ford called the findings disturbing and alleged there could be “kickbacks” involved.
“I can’t get into too many details but from what the forensic audit said it’s very disturbing. I don’t like to use the word kickbacks but it could be the situation,” Ford told reporters Wednesday.
But Toronto Community Housing said in a statement later in the day the terminations weren’t based on “any evidence of kickbacks.”
Ford has made fixing issues affecting community housing tenants a focus of his mayoralty.