FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry:

The Office of the Fire Marshal has completed its investigation of the Oct. 25 fire at the Southeast Regional Correctional Centre in Shediac.

According to the provincial fire marshal, the incident is confirmed as an accidental fire caused by the improper or accidental disposal of smokers’ materials located in the vicinity of the second floor outside terrace. Several cigarette butts were discovered near the fire’s point of origin.

The point of origin was under the ramp section from the access door leading to the roof area. Fire extended into the wall assembly and roof components‎.

All active and passive fire safety devices functioned in accordance with their design: sprinkler systems were activated, the fire alarm sounded, the ventilation system shut down, and fire breaks were in place. Proper engineering combined with a well-executed fire safety plan resulted in the minimal spreading of fire and the safe evacuation of all occupants.

The centre is a 100 per cent non-smoking facility. The news that the fire was caused by someone smoking on the premises is extremely disappointing, and we are investigating.

While it is disappointing to learn of the cause of the fire, I cannot help but think of the excellent work of our staff at the correctional centre for acting quickly to ensure the safety of all occupants. As a result of their quick action and the execution of their safety protocols, no one was injured. I want to take this opportunity to thank them and the local fire department, as well as supporting staff within the department and our partners in law enforcement, for ensuring everyone’s safety and security during the transfer of offenders to other secure provincial facilities. They make us proud.

Due to safety and security concerns at the time, we withheld information on the location of the displaced offenders. The 160 temporarily displaced offenders were placed in all other provincial secure facilities: Saint John, Dalhousie, Madawaska and Miramichi. It is important to note that any offenders placed in Miramichi are in an area with absolutely no contact with youth or female offenders.

We understand that this is disruptive for the offenders and their families, and this unfortunate event has had ripple effects on the court system. It has also disrupted the work schedules of our staff, which now must travel further to work their shifts. However, every effort is being made to return to near-normal routines and we hope to be in a position to return some offenders to sections of the centre not affected by the fire in the coming days. We ask for patience as we work toward these goals.