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‘It was one Roman candle’: Family in legal battle after losing Vancouver home to fireworks

Click to play video 'Vancouver family in legal battle after losing home to fireworks' Vancouver family in legal battle after losing home to fireworks
The city of Vancouver's ban on the sale and use of consumer fireworks can't come soon enough for a family that lost their home to a roman candle in 2015. As Sarah MacDonald reports, someone's careless Halloween fun has forced them into a lengthy legal nightmare. – Oct 20, 2020

Vancouver’s ban on the sale and use of consumer fireworks can’t come soon enough for a family who lost their home in 2015.

Patricia Mitchell’s East Vancouver home was destroyed in a fire just days before Halloween five years ago. Her brother and a tenant who’d been trapped inside narrowly escaped injury.

“The fire department said, ‘One more minute and your brother would have been dead,'” Mitchell told Global News on Tuesday.

Click to play video 'Vancouver’s ban on sale and use of consumer fireworks begins Nov. 1' Vancouver’s ban on sale and use of consumer fireworks begins Nov. 1
Vancouver’s ban on sale and use of consumer fireworks begins Nov. 1 – Oct 19, 2020
“There were people in this [traffic] roundabout and they shot off a Roman candle and it landed on the porch. But a Roman candle is like a fireball.”
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The years since have been challenging emotionally and financially. Mitchell said she was forced to sell amid a battle with an insurance company that wouldn’t help.

Whoever tossed the Roman candle was never caught.

As of Nov. 1, the sale and use of consumer fireworks will no longer be permitted in the city. Only a certified technician who has both a federal operator certificate and a municipal fire permit will be able to set them off.

Click to play video 'Vancouver city council considers ban on fireworks' Vancouver city council considers ban on fireworks
Vancouver city council considers ban on fireworks – Nov 5, 2019

Some community events, such as Chinese New Year, Diwali and Canada Day, will still have the pyrotechnics, the city said, but personal firework displays will not be allowed.

Come November, anyone caught lighting the fuse on consumer explosives faces a $1,000 fine. Firecrackers and bottle rockets are already banned.

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First responders welcomed the ban.

Read more: Vancouver council to debate ban on sale of Halloween fireworks

“I think everyone dreads working Halloween night,” Capt. Jonathan Gormick of Vancouver Fire Rescue Services said.

“Our drive is to reduce the number of injuries and the amount of property damage that is incurred. But it also is a huge expense upon the department to implement the permitting system.”

Mitchell said the careless use of Halloween fireworks sparked a five-year emotional and financial nightmare.

“It was one Roman candle,” she said. “One minute of fun for that person and they destroyed the house.”

— With files from Amy Judd