Investigators Rule Out Arson In Facility Fire, As Attention Turns
Toward Owner's Past
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 30, 2006
ANDERSON, MISSOURI--Investigators have concluded that faulty wiring was probably responsible for a Monday morning fire that killed nine residents and one staff member of the Anderson Guest House.
State Fire Marshal Randy Cole said at a Wednesday news conference that, while the exact cause of the fire may never be known, investigators did find evidence of improperly spliced wiring in the remains of the facility, which housed 32 people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities.
Sergeant Jason Clark of the Missouri Highway Patrol said that there was no evidence that the fire had been deliberately set.
All of the victims died of smoke inhalation, including 19-year-old Glen Taff, the staff member who has been called a hero because he repeatedly ran into the burning building to try and rescue residents.
The deaths prompted Governor Matt Blunt to order the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Mental Health "to immediately assess and review all safety laws and regulations related to residential care facilities" and present him with a recommendations by the end of December. One issue to be examined will have to do with the fact that state laws currently do not require sprinkler systems in such facilities.
The fire has also prompted the media to focus on the facility's owner, 62-year-old Robert Joseph Dupont, who was convicted three years ago for his part in a scheme to defraud the federal Medicare program. According to the Kansas City Star, state law does not allow felons convicted in crimes involving health care facilities to operate long-term care facilities.
"Details emerge about founder of group operating home in fatal fire" (News-Leader)
"Guest House Owner Convicted of Fraud" (The Morning News)
"Cases of abuse, neglect found at group home that burned" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
"Electrical wiring may be cause of group home fire" (Kansas City Star)