Apartment fire leads to charges against local man


A Lunenburg County man faces obstruction and weapons charges with ties to a St. Patrick's Day apartment fire.

The man is accused of obstructing a Bridgewater Police Service (BPS) officer Cst. Asif Khan, who was assisting volunteer firefighters trying to gain access to an apartment, and is further charged with assaulting Khan, and resisting arrest.

Additional counts filed with the court allege the 29-year-old Bridgewater man caused a disturbance by swearing and shouting, that he carelessly stored a 12-gauge shotgun and shells, and possessed a firearm and ammunition while prohibited and without a licence.

None of the charges, alleged to have occurred March 17, have been tested in court against Derrick Wayne Charles Robar, and he is presumed innocent. The case is in front of a judge again in April as the matter navigates the legal system.

Volunteer firefighters were dispatched at 4:30 a.m. to a commercial alarm at a four-storey Pleasant Street apartment building where a fire was reported on site but had been extinguished. Tenants of the building temporarily evacuated.

Emergency crews discovered a bedroom sprinkler activated in a second floor unit, flooding the apartment, and causing additional water damage to the apartment below.

A small bed linen fire - less than a square metre in size - was confirmed in the bedroom and extinguished before emergency crews arrived, Andy Wentzell, the fire department's deputy chief, told LighthouseNOW in a telephone interview.

"First responders determined that the cause of the fire was suspicious, and information subsequently received by BPS indicated there were firearms located within the apartment," reads a statement issued March 18 by the municipal police department.

Firefighters shut off the sprinkler, helped clean up water, and allowed residents back in the building, Wentzell said. Four trucks and 30 firefighters worked the scene. Emergency management officials were notified of the incident. Paramedics provided temporary medical stand-by coverage.

An unidentified man sustained burns to his hands and was taken to South Shore Regional Hospital where he was treated and released. It's also believed he was checked for injuries he received during an altercation before the fire alarm, but BPS declined to provide details.

"Police are continuing the investigation and are currently looking for a second suspect," the March 18 statement continued. "Additional charges may be forthcoming stemming from the ongoing investigation."

At least three adults are temporarily displaced, Wentzell added, and the fire-impacted apartment needed cleaning and inspection before it could be re-occupied. Fire crews cleared from the scene around 6 a.m. but law enforcement remained for several hours and searched the unit where the fire occurred.

Wentzell said it is important to have working smoke detectors in apartment units. He declined to say if the smoke alarm was operational in the impacted apartment.

He also highlighted the need for building owners to have fire evacuation plans on site. He said the Pleasant Street tenants "did a wonderful job" getting out of the structure.

Halifax-based Black Seal Properties owns the 25-unit building. A group of investors purchased the property for $1.1 million in 2019 with plans to do renovations and upgrades.

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