Shediac jail fire deemed accidental, caused by improper disposal of cigarette butts

New Brunswick's Department of Justice and Public Safety says the fire at the Shediac jail on Oct. 25 was caused by improperly disposed cigarettes. Shelley Steeves / Global News

Officials say a fire at the provincial jail in Shediac, N.B., last week was caused by cigarettes that were improperly put out.

The fire at the Southeast Regional Correctional Centre began in an area that does not house offenders and caused extensive damage to the five-year-old building.

READ MORE: New Brunswick jail fire now out, offenders moved to another location

According to the provincial fire marshal, the blaze has been deemed accidental.

WATCH: Fire at jail in Shediac, N.B.

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Fire at jail in Shediac, N.B – Oct 25, 2017

The New Brunswick Department of Justice and Public Safety says it appears the fire was caused by “improper or accidental disposal of smokers’ materials” near the second-floor outdoor terrace.

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Despite the fact that the centre is a non-smoking facility, several cigarette butts were discovered near the fire’s point of origin.

“The news that the fire was caused by someone smoking on the premises is extremely disappointing, and we are investigating,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry in a statement.

The department says all safety devices functioned properly during the fire; the sprinkler system was activated, the fire alarm sounded, the ventilation system shut down and firebreaks were in place.

WATCH: Shediac jail fire investigation

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Shediac jail fire investigation – Oct 26, 2017

As well, staff and offenders were evacuated safely from the facility.

“While it is disappointing to learn of the cause of the fire, I cannot help but think of the excellent work of our staff at the correctional centre for acting quickly to ensure the safety of all occupants. As a result of their quick action and the execution of their safety protocols, no one was injured,” said Landry.

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“I want to take this opportunity to thank them and the local fire department, as well as supporting staff within the department and our partners in law enforcement, for ensuring everyone’s safety and security during the transfer of offenders to other secure provincial facilities.”

The displaced offenders have been placed in other facilities in Saint John, Dalhousie Madawaska and Miramichi.

Landry points out that male offenders placed in Miramichi, where there is a juvenile detention centre and a women’s correctional centre, are in an area with no contact with youth or female offenders.

READ MORE: Questions and complaints remain after New Brunswick jail fire

“We understand that this is disruptive for the offenders and their families, and this unfortunate event has had ripple effects on the court system. It has also disrupted the work schedules of our staff, [who] now must travel further to work their shifts,” Landry said.

“Every effort is being made to return to near-normal routines and we hope to be in a position to return some offenders to sections of the centre not affected by the fire in the coming days. We ask for patience as we work toward these goals.”

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