Investigators from Nanaimo RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue remained on scene throughout Wednesday combing through debris for evidence to the cause of a fire at 754 Nicol St. in south Nanaimo Tuesday where firefighters found three people dead at the scene. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Fire victim’s work absence out of character

Victim in Nicol Street fire was employee and friend

It was out of character for Jason Stephenson to simply not show up for work, according to his employer and friend David Stalker.

Stephenson, 45, Amberlee Scarr, 45, and Piper Stephenson, 7, were reported as the victims found dead in a burning home at 754 Nicol St. on Tuesday.

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Stalker, president of David Stalker Excavating, based in Ladysmith, said he learned something was wrong when he was contacted by RCMP investigators, who queried him about Stephenson, but would not confirm that Stephenson had died.

“I have not been officially told by the RCMP,” Stalker, who is visiting in the U.S. said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I believe that that’s what happened, but I have not been told officially by anybody that they have died.”

Stephenson, a heavy machine operator, had worked for Stalker Excavating for about one year.

“Jason, he was a friend of mine. I’d actually known him for several years,” Stalker said.

Stalker suspected something was wrong when he received a call from his work crew informing him Stephenson hadn’t shown up for work and that they unable to get in contact with him.

“Jason’s been late a couple of times, but never actually to be not showing up … If he had been half an hour late, these things happen … but it was out of character, yes,” Stalker said.

Then a neighbour of Stephenson’s called Stalker’s office about the fire.

“We at that point realized something was wrong, Jason was obviously not showing up for work and now, of course, the house being on fire,” Stalker said.

Police, firefighters and coroners are continuing their investigations.

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