Charges have been laid after a fatal fire at an east end assisted living building.
The London Fire Department announced on Friday afternoon it has laid counts under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act against the owner, operator and director of the property at 1451 Oxford St. East after a male tenant died as a result of an intense blaze there on November 3rd.
An organization called People Helping People operated by Keith Charles, which helps those struggling with addiction or mental health issues, ran the property. The building was later condemned as an illegal group home with nearly 30 people living in the three-storey walk-up.
The LFD says the building’s owner faces 11 charges, its director faces nine counts and the operator has been charged with six. Officials say they’ve also laid charges against the owner and operator of buildings at 585 and 589 Clarke Rd. In the case of those properties, the owner is not the same as the building at 1451 Oxford St. East, but the operator is.
They each face five Fire Code charges in connection with the Clarke Rd. properties.
Officials say zoning by-law charges have been laid by Municipal Law Enforcement Services against the owner and operator for non-compliance with group home zoning regulations.
The LFD has not named those individuals who have been charged, but AM980 has learned Keith Charles is the operator of the Oxford St. East and Clarke Rd. buildings and has been charged.
“Prior to the fire we had been there on a number of occasions to inspect the building (at 1451 Oxford St. East),” Deputy Fire Chief Gary Bridge tells AM980. “These charges that have been issued relate to inspections that occurred prior to the fire as well as post to the fire.”
Bridge says the charges for the properties relate to things like maintaining smoke alarms, insuring fire separations are maintained, door closures, blocked doors, wedged doors as well as maintenance of exit signs, illumination of exit signs and fire extinguishers.
“They all relate to fire code violations that have been observed.”
And while the charges that have been laid don’t fall under the Criminal Code, Bridge says they’re still extremely serious.
“Penalties for these types of convictions can range from, for an individual, up to $50,000 and a year in jail. For a corporation it’s up to $100,000 and for a director or an officer of a corporation fines can be $50,000 and up to one year in jail as well,” Bridge says.
“These are serious in nature.”
As for what happens next, Bridge says the charges have been filed with the Ontario Court of Justice and those accused will appear in court sometime during February 2015.
With files from Jacquelyn LeBel