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Faulty wiring alleged prior to fire that killed Nanaimo boy, 7

The family who lived in the Nanaimo apartment where fire broke out on the weekend, claiming the life of a seven-year-old boy, had complained about faulty wiring, a relative told the Times Colonist Monday.

The family who lived in the Nanaimo apartment where fire broke out on the weekend, claiming the life of a seven-year-old boy, had complained about faulty wiring, a relative told the Times Colonist Monday.

Dominik Ambrose David Billy was sleeping in the second-storey apartment at 361 Albert St. with his five brothers and sisters and his parents when fire broke out about 3 a.m. Saturday. The rest of the family was able to escape, but they and RCMP officers were unable to reach Dominik because of the intensity of the flames, said the B.C. Coroners Service.

Dominik’s aunt, Shirley Antoine, said her brother Lyle Billy and his family moved into the apartment on Oct. 1 and he had complained to the landlord about faulty wiring and a water leak in the back room.

“Every time they turned on the light it would spark,” Antoine said. She said her brother told the kids not to turn on the light, “but you can’t have a family of kids in the dark,” she said.

The apartment and a thrift shop on the ground floor are rental suites in the century-old building. The building’s owner did not return calls for comment.

The B.C. Coroners Service and Nanaimo Fire Rescue Department are still investigating what caused the fire. Fire inspectors were at the site Monday gathering evidence and trying to determine where the fire started.

Fire Chief Craig Richardson said it’s too early to speculate if the cause was electrical.

Nanaimo Fire arrived within minutes of the call, and two firefighters went into the burning building, battling flames as they searched for the child.

They found Dominik in a back bedroom and pulled him out.

Dominik suffered significant burns and smoke inhalation and was in cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated at the scene and was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and then by hovercraft to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. He died Sunday morning.

The family was gathered at Antoine’s house on Monday to grieve.

Dominik was in Grade 2 at Georgia Avenue Community School. He loved video games and horsing around with his siblings and cousins, Antoine said.

Antoine used to call him the Dominator, a nickname he earned for his love of wrestling.

“He was my nephew Gabe’s partner-in-crime,” said Antoine.

The two firefighters who found him in the burning house are devastated, said assistant fire chief Martin Drakeley. “It leaves a lasting effect on you,” Drakeley said. “Many of our firefighters have young children.”

A critical-incident team was called in immediately to help the firefighters deal with what they had experienced.

“These two put their lives at considerable risk. Then they went right back to work and helped extinguish the fire,” Drakeley said.

The family is being helped by the province’s emergency social services program and the City of Nanaimo community assistance program.

Donations for the family are being accepted by the Nanaimo Native Victory Chapel at 471 Irwin St. Furniture, household items, bedding, clothing and toys can be dropped off at the church between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. every night until Friday.

“They lost everything, so we have to try and think long term,” said Emmy Manson, who is co-ordinating donations. “There’s a family of seven still surviving. We’ve got lots of clothes, but we’re onto the big things to make a home.”

Manson is also searching for affordable housing for the family of seven.

Financial donations can be made at the website gofundme.com/i1qd7k

kderosa@timescolonist.com

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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