Updated Mon. Apr. 3 2006 11:19 PM ET

Toronto Police Det. Sergeant Myron Demkiw speaks during a press conference outside the Tim Hortons on Monday.

Toronto Police Det. Sergeant Myron Demkiw speaks during a press conference outside the Tim Hortons on Monday.

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Terrorism ruled out in T.O. coffee shop blaze

CTV.ca News Staff

Police have ruled out terrorism as the cause of a flash fire that left one man dead at a Tim Hortons coffee shop in an upscale shopping area of downtown Toronto on Sunday.

Toronto police dismissed initial reports that a man had entered the washroom shortly before the blaze with explosives strapped to his body, saying the sudden, intense fire was caused by gasoline or a similar accelerant.

"There's no absolutely no information regarding anybody having anything strapped to their chest," Det. Sgt. Myron Demkiw told reporters Monday.

"Investigations into the identity of the deceased and his activities are presently ongoing. We are examining video evidence that may aid us We don't know whether this was an accidental or deliberate act at this time."

Tim Hortons spokesman Nick Javor confirmed that the dead man was not an employee.

A post-mortem examination conducted Monday determined the man died of smoke inhalation.

Police said the man brought a can of gasoline into the washroom at the Tim Hortons on Yonge Street, just north of Bloor Street in the city's Yorkville area, at around 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Another man went into the men's room, smelled the fumes and ran out. Seconds later, customers heard a loud bang and the washroom ceiling collapsed.

An unidentified male was pronounced dead at the scene with severe burns to his body. Nobody else was injured.

Demkiw said investigators discovered what they believe to be the accelerant used in the fire.

"There was a container found in the bathroom with a liquid that is believed to be gasoline," he added.

Meanwhile, police are refusing to say much about a car found nearby which is believed to belong to the dead man.

"Certain items at the scene led us to that car," Demkiw said, refusing to reveal what those items may have been.

After a thorough examination by the Emergency Task Force's bomb robot, the car, which apparently had a baby seat in the back, was hauled out of a parking lot and taken to the Centre for Forensic Science for tests.

Shortly after Sunday's fire, a police robot was used to detonate a suspicious duffel bag found nearby as a precaution. The bag contained school supplies.

And a Tim Hortons store several blocks north at Yonge Street and Lawrence Avenue was evacuated and locked down later in the afternoon after panicky employees spotted a stray plastic bag and called police.

The suspicious package turned out to be a clock in a shopping bag.

"They just were concerned about it, given what had transpired," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said.

Nearby streets at both locations were blocked for hours with patrol cars and yellow tape.

Blair described the incident at Yonge and Bloor as a fire, not a bombing.

He refused to specify whether it was believed to be deliberate or accidental, but said police were not looking for suspects.

"Until we determine precisely what happened in that cubicle and what caused those flames that took that man's life, I really can't speculate," he said.

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