Bedbug exterminator being sued for $4M for condo blaze
By TONY BLAIS, QMI Agency
EDMONTON — A Calgary exterminator held responsible for sparking a massive fire at a downtown Edmonton condo while battling bedbugs is being sued for nearly $4 million.
According to a statement of claim filed in Edmonton’s Court of Queen’s Bench on Sept. 5, Bed Bug Task Force Ltd., company owner Andrew Holden, employee Steve Throndson and c, the condo tenant who hired the exterminator, are among the defendants.
Trying to quell the infestation of bedbugs led to the downtown fire that forced scores of people from their homes at the Royal Scot building near 105 Avenue and 92 Street. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI AGENCY)
Several U.S. companies linked to the ThermaPure Heat pest extermination process are also defendants in the $3.95-million lawsuit which was launched by the Royal Scot Condominium Corp. and some condo owners.
The pest-control company was working at the Royal Scot Condominium, 10514 92 St., on July 12, 2011, when they started a $3.5-million blaze that injured five people — including three children — and displaced 50 others.
Investigators at the time said the fire was sparked by a propane heater the company was using to exterminate an infestation of bedbugs on the fourth-floor of the condo complex.
On Monday, Bed Bug Task Force was fined $10,000 after pleading guilty in provincial court to one count of conducting hot works in an area not free of combustible and flammable contents under the Alberta Fire Code.
According to the statement of claim, Bed Bug Task Force went to unit 408 at the condo complex to perform bedbug extermination services at the request of Spracklin.
As a result of the use of the heat process and related equipment on the unit’s balcony, a fire broke out and spread to other units, according to the statement of claim, which also alleges the fire led to the evacuation of the entire complex and resulted in the complete reconstruction of a large portion of the building.
The lawsuit alleges Bed Bug Task Force and Holden failed to properly train its employees in the heat process used to exterminate pests, failed to perform services in a skilled and competent manner, failed to use proper techniques and used equipment that was not approved.
It also claims Throndson failed to take any proper safety precautions when performing the pest extermination services, and failed to set up and use the equipment safely.
A statement of defence has not yet been filed.
Statements of claim and statements of defence contain allegations which have not been proven in court.
The massive fire also damaged a neighbouring mosque and an apartment building.