Suspected arson in Kamloops leaves woman dead, family displaced - InfoNews

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Suspected arson in Kamloops leaves woman dead, family displaced

Fiona France has died in what is a suspected case of arson.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED- GoFundMe
July 16, 2019 - 8:52 AM

KAMLOOPS - A suspicious early morning fire in a Westsyde mobile home park yesterday has left one woman dead and a family displaced.

RCMP say in a media release the woman pulled from the burning home yesterday, July 15, has died as a result of her injuries. The youth arrested by police yesterday have been released and their involvement in the fire is still under investigation, police say.

Fiona France had lived in the trailer park for less than a year and had quickly become a “mother hen” for the community, according to Corrine Ducharme, her next door neighbour.

Ducharme says although France didn’t live there very long, she quickly became a close friend to her family.

“She was amazing. She always watched everybody, she took care of us all. If we forgot to water our plants, she did it for us. If we didn’t bring in our garbages in, she did it,” Ducharme says. “She was the mother hen of the trailer park.”

Ducharme was awakened at around 3:30 a.m. by her daughter Anasztazia Szanto. Szanto heard loud bangs and thought that their neighbour’s trailer was being broken into.

“I went to my living room and I looked out my living room window, and I saw Fiona's living room on fire,” Ducharme says.

The fire jumped to Ducharme's trailer within minutes. The extent of the damage done is not yet known.
The fire jumped to Ducharme's trailer within minutes. The extent of the damage done is not yet known.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED - Corrine Ducharme

Ducharme says she got her two teenaged children, her young daughter, and the family dog out of their home in less than three minutes. When they got outside, they realized the fire had already jumped to their house.

“The front of (France’s) house was already gone and my house had already ignited from the explosions of the windows,” Ducharme says.

The family of four and their dog waited outside for hours while Kamloops Fire Rescue, Kamloops Search and Rescue, and Kamloops RCMP managed the scene. France was pulled from the trailer while it was ablaze, and Ducharme watched as first responders attempted to save her life.

“Once I had gotten my children far enough away, I was kind of standing evaluating what was happening and the police officer said, ‘You know, your kids are still a little to close, they’re not going to want to see this.’ I looked over, and they were doing CPR on her. The next time I looked to check, she was already in the ambulance. Then the ambulance didn't take off in a hurry, so I thought she must be stable. But from what I understand, they had resuscitated her three times.”

Ducharme says her older kids and France were very close, chatting nearly every day and forming a close bond with her.

“They’re upset and they’re very angry that somebody hurt their neighbour and their friend,” Ducharme says. “She was the coolest lady, you know? They would have friends over and Fiona would come over and tell them, ‘You guys are having so much fun, and you're great kids. Don't ever let anybody tell you you're not, you're amazing.’ They're going to miss all that.”

Even Ducharme’s youngest daughter, who is four years old, was close to France. Although she hasn’t fully grasped what is going on, Ducharme says she is confused about France’s absence.

“She knows that there was a fire and she doesn't have her shoes, and she’s upset she doesn't have her cereal, so we went and got her cereal,” Ducharme says. “Her daily routine is eating cereal and looking out the window and talking to Fiona while Fiona is having her smoke and her coffee and watering her pants. So she grasped, 'I need my cereal because I don’t have Fiona.'”

Although the investigation is still underway, it is believed that the fire was set under suspicious circumstances.

Ducharme says that France had previously lived with her adult son until she kicked him out a few months ago. Ducharme says her son had witnessed an incident of vandalism to France’s mobile home.

“My son had mentioned a couple of months ago, a young adult or late teen threw a brick or a rock or something through her window. I think that was directed to her older son, not particularly her,” says Ducharme. “Since that incident happened, she asked him to leave so that she didn't have drama.”

While the fire is under investigation, Ducharme and her family will stay in a hotel, and then relocate to a family friend’s house. The cost of the family’s hotel room is covered by victim services, but Ducharme says that it will only last a short while.

“Then I’ll have to do everything through my insurance,” Ducharme says. “I have a $1000 deductible, which is a little much. I mean, it is what it is. Then they have to put in a request for emergency money, so I have to wait for another two to three weeks.”

Ducharme says she is lucky to have had her home covered by insurance but states that her landlord has not given her any insight into possible repairs.

“Once they find out who did it, I just hope that they get the proper punishment that fits the crime because they took a beautiful soul and she didn't deserve to go early. And I know that's horrible because they're probably kids."

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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