Investigators announced criminal charges for two men in connection with a fire in Provo that claimed the life of a Utah woman.
Provo Fire & Rescue held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the cause and circumstances of the fire on June 1, 2018.
Homer Workman and Kelly Ellis were charged with the manslaughter of Donna Clegg, a 48-year-old Provo resident who died in the fire with her two dogs.
Both men were also charged with reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor, for renting to Clegg and her ex-husband, who also lived at the home.
Provo Fire Chief, Jim Miguel, stated, “As a result of the fire, as a result of some code enforcement issues over the years, and an investigation of the fire cause and Donna clegg’s inability to get out of the building, criminal charges have been filed against the owner of the building, Mr. Ellis, and the Lessor of the building, Mr. Workman.”
The blaze started near the hallway leading to the back door of the building. The fire began accidentally, due to either candles or smoking material located at the property. Lead investigator and battalion chief, Lynn Schofield, said, “You had windows into the sleeping compartment that were boarded shut, and a door into the sleeping compartment that didn’t open sufficiently to allow a normal-sized person to escape. Which is required as part of the minimum health and safety requirements for a residential dwelling.”
Charging documents quote Ellis as describing the building as a “death trap” and a “tinderbox.” But officials said he still did not try to remove the residents from the building and continued to accept rent from the two tenants.
Other charges against Workman and Ellis include class B misdemeanors of no rental dwelling license and failure to meet minimum health and safety standards, as well as class C misdemeanors of violation of conditional use permit and illegal caretaker facility.
Ellis also owned another property that burned down two years prior to the fire, court records stated.
As of now, Ellis and Workman are scheduled to appear in court on December 11th.