Open flames to keep teens warm led to deadly Charlottetown fire

Investigators rule fire that killed three in abandoned building is undetermined

Ryan Ross
Published on April 29, 2014

Investigators looking into a fire at an abandoned building in Charlottetown that killed three teens and sent a fourth to hospital in March have classified it as undetermined.

Charlottetown police announced Monday the evidence showed there was an open fire in the former Sherwood Greens building when the victims went to sleep on March 29, but because there wasn’t an identified ignition source, the investigators categorized it as undetermined.

While Charlottetown police don’t suspect foul play and have concluded their investigation, fire officials are keeping the file open.

Joey Reeves, Brandon MacKinnon and Kenneth Irving died in the fire at the abandoned building on Mount Edward Road in the Prince Edward Island capital.

Brandon Quinn survived and was sent to hospital in Halifax where he was treated for severe burns before returning home last week.

Charlottetown Deputy Police Chief Gary McGuigan said the investigation wrapped up last week after the police talked to Quinn and the victims’ family members to go over the timeline from the night of the fire.

It also gave the police a chance to talk to the families about what was confirmed to have happened and give them some closure, McGuigan said.

As part of the investigation, McGuigan said Charlottetown police had to validate information they received off social media and were able to check with businesses to help piece together a timeline.

“It was quite extensive and the investigator did a good job,” he said.

McGuigan said the investigators know there was a fire lit in the building, but they don’t know what the ignition source was.

“The fire department has been able to come up with an area of origin but they haven’t been able to come up with an ignition source.”

On Monday, the police also provided a brief summary of events involving the teens on the night of the fire, although McGuigan said there were still some things they didn’t know.

Through the investigation, the police determined a friend drove the four teens from Montague to Charlottetown.

That friend dropped two of the teens off at the Charlottetown Mall and the other two in the downtown area.

They socialized separately with friends but later met up before midnight and went to 207 Mount Edward Rd., the site of the fire.

McGuigan said some of the teens had been to the building before the night of the fire.

At some point during the night of March 29, the teens lit a fire to keep warm, but McGuigan said the police didn’t know if they had previously planned to spend the night in the building.

The police also don’t know how Quinn was able to get out of the building while the others weren’t, McGuigan said.

The last validated correspondence was a text message that one of the teens sent at 2 a.m. to a friend, although McGuigan said the police didn’t know what that message said.

Charlottetown police and the fire department responded to the fire call at about 5:30 a.m.

McGuigan said since the fire, all of the people who were involved in the response were offered a critical incident stress debriefing and some police officers took advantage of the service.

“Those are the days that you train and train for but hope they never come.”