Garfield Peart, owner of M&M Garage Door Services, was inside the garage of a home near Pearson International Airport about four months ago when he heard the voice of a child coming from the other side of the door he was installing.
“Suddenly, a kid runs up,” Peart said, “and he said, ‘Sir, your van is on fire!’ There was a window above the garage door; I went up top, and I look out, and yes, there it is, on fire – actually the van of the owner of the house – beside my truck. So I had to rush outside while the fire was gushing from the side of the van to move my truck. And as soon as I moved my truck, the van blew up.”
Nobody was hurt in the explosion, so Peart laughed loudly when he was told why he was being asked about this peculiar chain of events so long after it unfolded: a Google Street View camera car, we now know, drove by the Robinglade Drive house minutes before the explosion, photographing the flames before Peart was made aware of them – and then, apparently, proceeding on its merry way.
Fortunately for the world, Google is better at creating cool things than at telephoning fire departments.
The company launched the GTA edition of Street View yesterday.
Using the free service, which can be accessed through Google Maps, Torontonians can view high-quality 360-degree snapshots of everything visible from almost every street in the city and its suburbs: homes, stores, parks, restaurants, tourist attractions, soon-to-be-toast vehicles.
As depicted by Street View, Toronto seems clean and orderly. Tourism honchos, however, will surely not be thrilled to see the municipal workers’ strike memorialized by photos depicting Christie Pits as a dumpsite.
And fans of the type of humour that is funny because it involves innocent people getting embarrassed by big corporations – and who isn’t a fan, really? – will delight in a photo of a man in a loud sweatshirt walking away from an adult video store on Yonge St.