Lantzville fire victim identified

The B.C. Coroners Service has identified David William Birnie, 55, of Lantzville as the victim of a fatal garage fire in Lantzville.

Birnie's body was found Feb. 25 in a car inside the garage by firefighters who responded to extinguish a fire inside the garage of the home on Myron Street.

Donna Reimer, Nanaimo school district spokeswoman, confirmed Birnie was the principal of Coal Tyee Elementary  School and that he had worked until Feb. 21, the Friday before his death.

"It's been a really tough week for the school," Reimer said. "The suspicion was that it was him, but until we knew the identity was confirmed we really couldn't do too much, so it's been really tough for the school staff and, with the help of parents and staff, they've been able to explain it to the children."

Reimer said the school can now plan to hold a memorial for Birnie that will likely also include staff members from other schools in the school district.

Upon receiving the coroners service confirmation Wednesday, Reimer was drafting a announcement confirming Birnie's death to be read to Coal Tyee students during classes Thursday morning.

"We did have extra supports in place at the school last week and we'll continue to have any required additional support that's needed there," Reimer said.

The coroners service and RCMP are still investigating the death, but have ruled out foul play.

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