Candles blamed for house fire where family of 3 found dead
Published Friday, October 13, 2017 2:18PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, October 13, 2017 3:59PM PDT
Unattended candles are believed to be the cause of a house fire where a girl and her parents were found dead earlier this week.
Nanaimo Fire and Rescue revealed the suspected cause of the Nicol Street blaze Friday. Firefighters said they've finished their investigation and the fire has been deemed accidental.
The fire appears to have started in the kitchen area early Tuesday morning, Nanaimo Fire Chief Karen Fry said at a news conference.
It was an oxygen-deprived fire, she said, so it was likely burning for a long time with cooling down periods before it ignited further. Eventually, it was large enough to attract the attention of passersby.
"Candles are one of the leading causes of fires and they're very dangerous," Fry warned.
She added that there was nothing to suggest the laneway house had working smoke detectors, which is something investigators often come across.
It is unclear whether there were working smoke detectors in the laneway house. The fire was what brought emergency officials to the home on Tuesday afternoon, but the cause of the family's deaths has not yet been revealed.
The RCMP told CTV Vancouver Island that the investigation into cause of death is now in the hands of the B.C. Coroners Service, and that Mounties have completed their investigation. Fry said so far the case is not suspicious in nature but that they'll await the coroner's results.
The bodies of Jason Stephenson, Amberlee Scarr and their seven-year-old daughter Piper Stephenson were first uncovered by firefighters called in by bystanders who broke windows and shouted to try to get people outside.
Fry said the family was involved in the community and known to many – including some people she worked with.
"We're grieving with the family," she said.
The chief could not comment on what the family's condition was before the fire, why they were unable to get out or what time they died. Those details will likely be included in the coroner's report.
Earlier this week, RCMP Cpl. Jon Stuart said the fire was small enough that first responders likely wouldn't expect to find bodies, but that it is not something they generally anticipate.
CTV News has obtained video of the crime scene showing bodies that do not appear to be burned, however, smoke inhalation could be a possible cause of death, according to Stuart.
He said investigators will follow up with the BC Coroner's Service to determine the cause of death. Police said there is nothing to suggest foul play at this point, but that they're not yet ready to rule it out.
An online fundraiser has been set up to help the family cover the costs of funeral arrangements for the mother and daughter. The page raised more than $9,000 of its $10,000 goal in a single day.
The page's creator wrote that any money left over will be left in trust to Scarr's surviving sons Benson and Adam. Many who donated wrote about Scarr's "huge heart" and sense of humour, and expressed their sympathies for the family.
With files from CTV Vancouver Island