Lethal residence fire started by victim

A fire that broke out April 14 on the
fourth floor of Wilfrid Laurier University’s
Waterloo College Hall (WCH)
student residence is believed to have
been started by the first-year student
who died as a result of injuries suffered
in the fire.

“We believe that primarily the victim
in this case played a role in the
fire,” said Olaf Heinzel, public affairs
co-ordinator for the Waterloo Regional
Police Service (WRPS).

Though he could not go into further
details as the fire marshal is still
waiting for results from the forensic
department, Heinzel noted that “some
accelerant … was used in the fire.”

“We are still waiting for some test
results to come back,” he said. “The
testing will help us determine what
chemicals may have been used [to
spread the fire].”

Heinzel said that it could take
months for the findings to be released,
noting that “other factors may play a
role in [the fire marshal] being able to
provide a report.”

19-year-old David LaForest died
in a Hamilton hospital after suffering
from the severe burns he received in
the WCH fire. On the evening of April
14 students saw him being carried
outside of the building by a residence
life don.

Following the fire, damage to WCH
residence was so severe that students
had to be relocated to hotels
and vacant student residences for the
remainder of the semester’s exam
period.

According to assistant vice-president
of physical resources Gary
Nower, damages totaled $1.3 million,
which will be covered by the university’s
insurance policy.

Repairs to the building – including
fixing structural and electrical elements,
as well as cleaning and replacing
furniture – were completed Aug.
20 in time for 320 students to move
into the residence on Sept. 7.

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