Niagara police cleared after man sets mother, himself on fire in Vineland, Ont. home: SIU

File photo. File/Global News

TORONTO — The province’s police watchdog has cleared two Niagara Regional Police officers in a fire that killed a mother and her son in a Vineland, Ont.-area home last summer.

The Special Investigations Unit said the officers responded to an alleged domestic dispute at a home on Epp Street in Vineland at about 8:30 p.m. on July 5.

Once on scene, officers could reportedly hear screams from inside the house before entering and finding a 50-year-old man standing in the living room beside his 73-year-old mother, who was in a wheelchair.

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The SIU said within seconds of the officers entering the home, the man ignited gasoline that had been poured inside the room.

One of the officers allegedly tried to rescue the woman but slipped and fell to the floor before he caught fire.

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The SIU said the officers managed to escape the home and extinguish the flames on the first officer’s body, but both the man and his mother died of acute smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

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The officer who caught fire was hospitalized with severe burns.

“Neither officer is in any way responsible for the fire which took the lives of the mother and son. It is also evident that the officers had no chance to intervene to prevent this destructive act,” SIU Director Tony Loparco said in a release.

“They were unaware that they were entering an extremely dangerous situation and had barely set foot inside the home when the man, located several feet away from the officers, set it ablaze.”

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Loparco said the man was to blame for his and his mother’s death and the injuries to the officer.

The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

Three investigators and two forensic investigators were assigned to investigate the circumstances of the incident.


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