Seniors home fire victim was suicidal, residents say
One of the two residents who died in the explosion and fire early Tuesday at Edmonton's Bethany Senior Citizens Home in Old Strathcona was suicidal, residents told CBC News.
Ron Williams, who lives on the fifth floor of the building, said he believed Ken Kopiak was suicidal and a schizophrenic who was off his medication. Other residents expressed similar opinions.
Police could not confirm the residents' comments.
Police said they are investigating Anna Fedorio's death in the fire as a homicide but are not looking for suspects.
Kopiak and Fedorio lived beside each other on the third floor, CBC News has learned.
Residents said Kopiak lived in the apartment that caught fire.
Police believe the fire and a separate car fire in the parking lot of the complex were deliberately set. Residents said it was Kopiak's car.
Seven people were taken to hospital, six suffering from smoke inhalation and another with chest pains after the fire. Their conditions were not known.
"It was around 12:30 when we heard this 'boom,'" said Kari Heise, who lives next to the six-storey building at 99th Street and 83rd Avenue.
"We saw a car completely engulfed in flames behind the seniors building beside us."
After calling 911, Heise and her husband ran outside and saw the seniors complex on fire as well.
Firefighters were called about 12:30, had the fire under control by 2:10 a.m.
Arson and homicide detectives will spend the next couple of days searching through the debris, said Det. Dwayne Lakusta.
About half of the 59 seniors are now staying at a southside hotel; the others are with relatives.
Resident Matthew Renn saw the car on fire before an explosion rocked his suite.
"The one wall inside was just opened like a door, my furniture is upside down, my bed was [moved] two feet," he said outside the Ramada Inn on Calgary Trail. "I fell down. I smashed my big finger."
Firefighters had to rescue him from a window, because the hallway was too hot, he said.
Damage to the building, built in 1975, was estimated at $1.3 million.