Monday, October 12, 2009

2 Dead In Winnipeg Bathhouse Fire, Including Popular Drag Performer; Police Say Blaze Is "Suspicious"

Two people are dead after a fire broke out at a bathhouse in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. One of the two confirmed dead is Steven Yablonski (pictured right), a local drag queen, who went by the name Kerri O'Kee. Police are calling the blaze "suspicious." reports:
An early morning fire at a Winnipeg bathhouse has killed two people, including a popular local drag queen. Steven Yablonski, also known as Kerri O'Kee, died when a fire broke out at Aquarius Bath just before 7am on Oct 11. The other victim of the blaze has not yet been identified.

Police are calling the fire "suspicious in nature," but a police spokesperson says that doesn't necessarily mean arson. "That could mean a lot of things," says Const Jason Michalyshyn, including careless smoking. He says police automatically call fires "suspicious" whenever someone dies.

The owner of Aquarius, Chai Peng, says the blaze was kept to the top floor of the three-level bathhouse, but the entire business will be closed for at least a week. Authorities estimate the cost of damage at $500,000. Peng says two staff members were working at the time of the fire. He doesn't know how many patrons were in the building. "Right now I'm just shocked," says Peng. "I don't know why it happened." READ MORE
A Facebook group has been set up: Remembering Steven Yablonski (Kerri O'Kee)