Owner says $2.5 million in damage and losses after blaze which scared more than 20 employees
Local Journalism Initiative
A Sarnia man has plead guilty to the arson incident that set the Duststop Air Filters factory ablaze earlier this summer causing $2.5 million in damage and business loss.
Jacob Bondy, 41 from Sarnia, admitted in Sarnia Court on Sept. 21 that while working for Duststop he started the fire that forced the building to be evacuated. Petrolia/North Enniskillen firefighters responded to the Petrolia business on July 24 around 7 pm and battled the fire into the night before finally putting it out.
Nobody was injured in the blaze. But it was revealed that Duststop owners estimate damages at $2.5 million, between property damage, stock loss and business interruption.
Justice Deborah Austin accepted Bondy’s guilty plea for the arson and 10 other charges including theft.
The cause of the fire was originally unknown. Police were alerted when one of Duststop’s owners was reviewing surveillance footage after the fire and found suspicious activity.
The video shows Bondy walking around the Duststop facility just after 6:30 pm holding a small rag. He checks for other employees, and after finding the room empty moves behind a conveyor belt. Bondy can then be seen hurling a lit object across the room. He quickly walks away from the fire and leaves.
The surveillance video shows the fire slowly grow before erupting into a blaze, prompting an evacuation and call to the fire department. Three days after the incident Bondy was arrested and charged with arson.
Austin asked if there was a motive for the arson, but her question was left unanswered.
A victim impact statement from Kevin Goodhand, one of the Duststop owners, showed the emotional and financial toll of the arson. “Working 12-14 hour days trying to get things back into operation took valuable time away from my family and friends,” says Goodhand. “Extending beyond the initial couple of weeks, and still ongoing, I find myself stressed and primarily focused on the recovery.”
Goodhand says many of his employees were also scared following the fire. “In the days following the fire, and until we were aware Mr. Bondy was taken into custody, myself and others with knowledge of the incident were very nervous that Mr. Bondy would return to finish the job,” he says.
That fear has not fully gone away either, even with the arrest. “There were 21 people on shift with Mr. Bondy, and we still have no idea what his motive was or who he was intending to harm. The continuing fear I have is that once released he could come back to finish the job or go after his intended target again,” says Goodhand.
Restitution is the main issue to be resolved as the Crown and defense attempt to reach a joint submission. Insurance covered 90 per cent of the damage costs, but the Duststop owners were left to pay a $25,000 deductible. They want Bondy to pay it back.
Duststop’s insurance company, Sedgwick Canada, also is looking for $1.75 million from the admitted arsonist.
Sentencing was delayed until Wednesday, Sept. 23 for the Crown and defense to reach a joint submission on sentencing terms. Bondy is expected to receive a prison term in the two year range.