WCH fire investigation incomplete

The cause of the April 14 Waterloo College Hall (WCH) fire, that claimed the life of a first-year Wilfrid Laurier University student and displaced hundreds of students in the in the midst of final exams, has still not been identified.

Bryan Fischer, fire investigation supervisor for the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal, stated that the report is likely not to be completed until mid-June.
The fire, which started on the fourth floor of the student residence, has resulted in severe damage to the building; the university is still unsure how much it will cost to repair.

“There’s more damage than we thought,” said Kevin Crowley, director of news and editorial services at Wilfrid Laurier University. “It is going to be expensive, there’s no question about it, but we still don’t have an exact dollar figure.”

Crowley noted that most of the building’s repairs involve replacing electrical systems, including the fire detection and alarm systems.

Currently the fourth floor – which suffered the most damage – is being restored, and the entire residence is being cleaned.

While insurance will cover the structural damage of the building, the university has offered to pay for any personal belongings that were damaged in the fire.

“We felt that in the circumstances it was the right thing to do,” said Crowley.

Crowley stated that the university hopes to have the residence re-opened for the incoming first-year students in September.

Though the fire marshal is responsible for the final report, Fischer noted that because of the fatality the chief coroner is the lead agent, as any information has to be approved by this agency.

Steven Becket, executive officer for the Waterloo Regional Police Service, noted that personal information may prevent the report from being released once it is complete.

“Because of the nature of the investigation it may not actually become public,” said Becket.