(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

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

The Premier Hotel on Summerland’s Main Street and the taxi were owned by Bill and Lydia Johnston. Today, the building is Sass Fashions in Summerland. H.S. Kenyon, who moved the building to Summerland from Midway, continued with building construction. His family now operates Greyback Construction. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Two former Summerland hotel buildings have been moved over the years

Transport of buildings is part of community’s history

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Caroline McKay
COLUMN: Bring books out of hibernation for the new year

Plenty of lesser-known works from famous authors available from the library

Nate Brown photo
Okanagan-Shuswap says goodbye sunshine, hello winter

Temperatures are forecasted to drop by mid-next week

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19: Organizer of Kelowna anti-restriction protest ticketed for third time

The individual’s latest ticket for $2,300 was handed out by RCMP at an anti-lockdown rally Saturday

Mount Boucherie Secondary School is one of three Kelowna schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to an update from the school district Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at 3 Kelowna schools

Interior Health has confirmed exposures at Mount Boucherie, Springvalley and South Rutland schools

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)
Okanagan actor lands role in WW II movie

Evan-Riley Brown, from Lake Country, cast in production labelled as hybrid of a feature film and documentary called Journey To Royal: a WW II Rescue Mission.

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
More than 20 days have passed since the last case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Lakeside Manor. (File photo)
Salmon Arm retirement facility reopens social areas after COVID-19

More than 20 days have passed since last confirmed case at Lakeside Manor

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read