Port Moody seeks demolition of house where woman died in fire

Tragedy house left gutted

A house that was heavily damaged by a 2016 fire that killed a woman and left her six children homeless needs to be fixed up or the city of Port Moody could have it torn down.

Council will consider whether to initiate a formal remedial action order against the owner, Morgan Crest Development Corp. of Surrey. The company would then have 30 days to comply with the order, or 14 days to request a hearing for the order to be reconsidered. If either deadline isn’t met, the city could tear down the house with the owner being sent the bill.

In a report to council, Port Moody’s senior bylaw enforcement officer, Patrik Kolby, said the city has made repeated attempts to request the owner repair the damaged home that was boarded up immediately after the fire. It also issued two fines under the city’s unsightly premise bylaw, one in January 2018, and another in March 2019. Neither has been paid.

Kolby said the city did receive an application for a building permit last August to restore the home, but it remains pending because of several issues in the application. He said there was also a complaint last November that people or animals had entered the home, as well as an odour of natural gas in the area. The meter was immediately inspected by Fortis BC, and three days later the owner installed more boards to secure the premises.

But other than that, Kolby said, the home has remained untouched, with broken windows, burned siding and missing exterior doors.

Despite repeated assurance from the director of Morgan Crest, no repairs have been made, Kolby’s report said.

In July 2016, police responding to a domestic dispute at the home found it engulfed in flames, with two adults still inside. Officers discovered the woman with extensive burns to her body, and she succumbed to her injuries later that day in hospital. An adult male, believed to be her husband, was arrested at the scene and later charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded guilty in 2018 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Five of the couple’s six children were home at the time of the fire. They ranged in age from five to 18-years-old, and all escaped. One, who had made the initial call to 911, got out from the home’s top floor.

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