All eyes were on the Shediac Jail last fall as more than 160 inmates had to be relocated after a fire broke out on a second-floor terrace in the prison.
Now, details from the fire marshal’s “Fire Investigation Report” released to Global News concludes the fire was ignited when a cigarette butt was dropped between the openings of a wooden ramp and into a pile of dry leaves.
The report suggests the gusting wind caused the fire to spread quickly, which ignited roofing material.
According to Regional Fire Marshal Raymond LeBlanc, there were several cigarette butts found at different locations on the second-floor terrace. He also obtained data that suggests someone entered the terrace over an hour prior to the 911 call from the jail.
Access to that area is monitored by correctional staff.
“This is another indication that someone could have gone onto the terrace and accidentally disposed of smoker’s materials which caused the fire.” wrote LeBlanc.
Provincial jails are designated to be 100 per cent smoke-free and in fact, cigarettes would be considered contraband on the inside.
When asked about the investigation, New Brunswick’s premier wouldn’t specifically comment about the jailhouse fire but suggested a parallel investigation is ongoing.
“We will look into any situation that would put anybody in this province in harm’s way and we’ll make sure that it’s looked into in an in-depth way and that the appropriate actions are taken afterward,” said Brian Gallant in Moncton during a funding announcement at the local YMCA.
At least one member of the official Opposition is questioning the province’s response to the report.
“It’s not the same as someone bringing in cocaine or a knife but it’s still contraband and the jails run on certain rules for the protection of the inmates and the protection of the people who are in charge of the inmates,” explained Ernie Steeves, a PC MLA in Moncton.
The report also says the terrace isn’t accessible to inmates and can only be opened at a reception desk.
CUPE, the union representing workers at the jail declined to comment about the fire report as a further investigation is taking place.