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Firefighters describe search for survivors of Sudbury arson that killed three people


Firefighters testified Thursday that they knew people were trapped inside burning row housing on Bruce Avenue in Sudbury when they arrived on the scene in April 2021.

The first responders were on the stand to start Day 3 of the trial of Liam Stinson, who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and intentionally causing a fire to a dwelling causing bodily harm.

Captain Jamie Poffley was on the ladder truck the morning of April 11. En route to Bruce Avenue, Poffley testified they were made aware of "possible entrapment”

That occurs when “someone is inside when a house is one fire and they can’t get out,” he said.

Poffley told the jury he entered the burning unit to search for anyone trapped inside.

“Priority is always life,” he said.

He found the door to the basement where he located a male at the bottom of the basement stairs. Due to the man’s size, it took three firefighters to carry him out of the burning unit.

Jamie-Lynn Rose, Jasmine Somers and Guy Henri were killed in the fire. David Cheff, the only survivor, suffered significant injuries.

Three people died in the April 11, 2021, arson: Jasmine Marie-Claire Somers, left, Jamie-Lynn Lori-Lee Rose and Guy Armand Henri. (File)

Trent Mallette had only been a firefighter with Greater Sudbury Fire Services for seven months when the Bruce Avenue fire happened. Mallette testified he found one of the female victims inside the doorway to the bathroom upstairs.

After getting her to safety, he went in again and found another female victim upstairs in a bedroom.

Cpt. Philip Langis, who is now retired, testified he and his engine crew arrived just before 5 a.m. and were assigned to roof ventilation.

Langis told the jury that row housing like that on Bruce Avenue presents its own challenges for firefighters, since fire can spread through concealed spaces.

“When it spreads through the roof line, there is jeopardy of losing the entire block,” he said.

As part of the roof ventilation, Langis and his crew used a specialized chainsaw to cut a thin channel through the roof. This releases heat and gas and prevents the fire from spreading further.

Justice Dan Cornell started Day 3 of the trial by asking the jury not to consume local news reports.

“This trial is being extensively covered,” Cornell told the jury, adding that he can’t make a blanket order but can ask that they not read or watch news reports pertaining to the trial.

Vital signs were absent

Also during morning testimony, paramedic Marshall Zeman answered questions about his care of patients that morning.

Zeman said he initially dealt with a female patient who was extricated from the structure, but vital signs were absent and she had severe burns to her body.

He said the patient met obvious death criteria, which is used when there is a death outside of a hospital.

Zeman also cared for a male patient who had been extricated from the unit and still had a pulse. He told the jury the patient was quickly loaded into an ambulance and rushed to Health Sciences North, where they later died.

Thursday afternoon, Mark Kovala, a forensics officer with Greater Sudbury Police Service, testified that he was surprised by the level of damage the fire caused.

Kovala said police obtained video footage from a nearby surveillance camera which showed suspects using the pathway to leave the scene after the fire started.

He also told court he processed two gas cans for fingerprints, but was not able to find any clear prints.

Two more witnesses are expected to testify Friday: the first officer on scene and Dr. Martin Queen, a forensic pathologist. 

Stinson has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Four other men have already been before the courts for their roles in the fatal fire, including two who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and arson causing bodily harm. Top Stories

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