Canada
$3.5 million fire in Alberta caused by lighting cigars with torch

Credits: REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

TONY BLAIS | QMI AGENCY

EDMONTON – An Edmonton man has admitted starting a fire that caused $3.5 million damage to a historic downtown building by lighting cigars with a faulty torch.

Michael Kevin O'Reilly, 57, pleaded guilty Monday in Provincial Court to a charge of arson relating to the March 24, 2009, blaze at the four-storey Ramsey building, which was built in 1926.

Court heard O'Reilly rented space from Worthington Developments, which had a suite of offices on the top floor, and the company president gave O'Reilly a pass code to gain entry to the suite.

Around 3 p.m., O'Reilly entered the building and used the pass code to enter the fourth-floor suite.

O'Reilly then spent 20 minutes prying open the door to the president's office. Once inside, O'Reilly ripped the company's prospectus onto the desk and smoked some cigars which he lit with a faulty torch, court was told.

The torn papers caught fire, spreading across the fourth floor.

The fire caused $3.5 million in in smoke and water damage, including to some ground-floor restaurants, court heard.

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