(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

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Police investigation occurring near Black Rooster Pub and Grill in Castlegar

Three police officers and three RCMP vehicles were at the scene on Thursday afternoon

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

Two search and rescue calls involving children end with happy outcomes

The incidents took place in Trail and Salmo area on July 5 and 6

Trail RCMP officer accused of criminal harassment, forcible entry

BCPS: The charges against Murchie date between 2017 and 2020

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read