(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

Otter Co-op expands to North Vancouver brewery and Abbotsford pub

Aldergrove-borne enterprise delves into hospitality realm with three new Angry Otter liquor stores

LETTER: More traffic enforcement needed in Fort Langley, one resident pleads

Irresponsible drivers using the village and surrounding area as circuit – says Fort advocate

Group of Langley co-workers wins $145K with Lotto Max

Everyone was on days off when they heard the news they’d won the lottery

Langley fires prompt warning about balcony and deck fires

Langley Township has tips to stay safer in outdoor spaces that can be the scene of fires

Familiar name McFrugal’s returns to Langley’s retail landscape

The discount store is opening at the end of the month in the former Army and Navy location

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

Most Read