Two fires, says inspector
A house fire last January, which ended in the death of an elderly landlord, began as two bedroom fires in a main floor suite, fire inspector Capt. Marcel Profit testified in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Profit was found by the court to be an expert on origin and cause of structure fires and on how fires behave. He told Crown counsel Marie Louise Ahrens, “My opinion is it [one fire] was started by an individual... I found nothing with a heat source to start a fire, [so] it tells me it was lit manually.”
As for the second bedroom fire, he said, “I concluded that some person lit this fire as well.”
Frank William Edward Marion, 50, has three counts against him: manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death, arson causing bodily harm.
The counts stem from a Jan. 7, 2012 fire at a Merritt Road address. Jagdev Singh Jawanda, 85, died after being found, unconscious, by firefighters.
Profit testified that he went to inspect the three-storey house on the morning of Jan. 7, 2012, about 5:20 a.m. He had with him a device that detects the presence of hydrocarbons. The machine’s indicators went off as soon as he entered the building, he said.
Based on hydrocarbons present and the pattern of burning, Profit concluded two bedrooms on the main floor – the Bravo and Charlie rooms – were points of origin for the house fire.
(Ahrens explained ‘Bravo’ and ‘Charlie’ are terms used by firefighters for sides of buildings.)
In the ‘Charlie’ bedroom, Profit said he saw some evidence of heat, smoke and fire damage. He believed that fire was contained to the room.
“In my opinion the fire started at the foot end of the bed... I believe the bedroom door was closed either before or after the fire started...[and] it burnt up all the oxygen and burnt itself out.”
The Bravo fire was different.
“It was a very intense fire,” which in his opinion started on the bed. Then a flame came into contact with the window, breaking it, so that it became “like a chimney” – or vent. The fire then went up the side of the building, into the soffits and up into the roof. From there, the fire began “dropping down.”
Ahrens asked, “Were you able to determine the source of the ignition?”
“No,” said Profit.
The fire inspector said there was no evidence of fire spreading from one bedroom to the other, leading him to believe that the fire was of a “suspicious nature.”
The trial continues Tuesday before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ron Tindale.