(Facebook)

(Facebook)

Man charged after B.C house fire triggers high-grade explosives

Thomas Daniel Kendall charged with causing bodily harm by failing to properly store explosives

A man may be facing serious jail time for a house explosion in Queen Charlotte this summer that injured people and damaged buildings.

Police have arrested and charged Thomas Daniel Kendall with causing bodily harm by breaching a legal duty to properly store explosives.

The charge has not been proven in court, and Kendall has not yet had a chance to enter a plea — the first court date is set for Jan. 8.

If convicted, Kendall faces a maximum of 14 years in prison.

Sergeant Terry Gillespie of the Queen Charlotte RCMP says he is proud of how hard local officers have worked on the case, and he thanked the community for its support.

“There was a really solid investigation,” Sgt. Gillespie said.

“We feel we have a strong case.”

Queen Charlotte RCMP have been working overtime on the case ever since the house fire and explosion on Aug. 7. They spoke with a total of 51 witnesses.

“The fact that everyone came forward to give their side of the story was really great to see,” Gillespie said.

Off-island, forensics experts have also been doing lab work to support the case, following a site visit by the RCMP’s explosives disposal unit.

READ MORE: Police find live explosives near site of Q.C. house fire and explosion

It was a hot, dry week in August when a roofer using a blowtorch accidentally lit a fire on the roof of Kendall’s house at 622 Seventh Street in Queen Charlotte.

The fire quickly spread and engulfed the entire home.

Volunteer firefighters, police and paramedics were called to the scene before the fire triggered explosives stored on the property. Police later found live explosives scattered around the blast site.

“The accused did not warn anyone, to our knowledge, that there were any explosives on the property,” Gillespie said.

Anyone licensed to work with explosives in B.C. is required to store them at a GPS-located site registered with province’s natural resources ministry.

In this case, the explosives should have been stored several kilometres away from the Village of Queen Charlotte, with the detonators and explosives placed in separate magazines.

When the explosives went off, about 15 minutes after first responders arrived, the blast knocked people off their feet and shot flaming debris into the air, starting several spot fires.

While no one suffered life-threatening injuries, some people were concussed and injured in other ways that may permanently affect their quality of life.

The shock wave also warped the walls of neighbouring buildings and cracked windows in buildings further away.

One business in the next-door office building, the Revive Therapeutic Centre, has for now been forced to close.

Another, Haida Gwaii Accounting & Income Tax, has temporarily relocated to Skidegate until the building can be fixed.

The fire also damaged a nearby family home badly enough that it has forced the residents to move.

It took volunteer firefighters from both Queen Charlotte and neighbouring Skidegate over 24 hours to finally douse the fire, largely because the area was so dangerous to work in.

Neighbours joined them in dousing spot fires with garden hoses, and several people came by throughout the day with water and food. In October, nearly 400 people from Queen Charlotte and Skidegate turned out to a community dinner honouring the firefighters, police, and paramedics who responded.

READ MORE: First responders from Q.C., Skidegate honoured at community dinner

Gillespie said he has yet to find a similar case anywhere else in Canada.

“We were looking at case law for any other cases that had happened like this,” he said.

“I believe this is a fairly unique situation.”


 


andrew.hudson@haidagwaiiobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Pedestrians have rights to use highways

A highway is not the exclusive domain of drivers.

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has stepped up, in spite of COVID, for a number of charities. (Submitted)
Sahtlam firefighters step up

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has a long history of supporting charities

A mobile home fire prompted a quick response from firefighters Saturday around 3:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Mobile home up in flames at Duncan RV Park

One patient burned, EHS on scene

Phaecelia used as a cover crop attracts bees and provides them with high quality nectar. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Cover crops keep soil healthy and productive

We don’t harvest a cover crop and instead dig the tops under when they’re immature and soft

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Home is where you know your neighbours

My mom has lived at that address for 43 years.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read