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Charges laid against owners for alleged safety infractions after fatal 2022 Sydney house fire

A graduate student from India was killed after a fatal house fire on Park Street in Sydney last December. (Josefa Cameron/CBC - image credit)
A graduate student from India was killed after a fatal house fire on Park Street in Sydney last December. (Josefa Cameron/CBC - image credit)

Two companies have been charged in relation to a Sydney, N.S., house fire that killed an international student from India last December.

Rajesh Gollapudi died in December 2022 after a fire at a Sydney duplex.

The 33-year-old graduate student had been studying business analytics at Cape Breton University at the time of his death. He was one of eight international students living in the building at the time.

According to provincial court documents, Hanover Storage Inc. of Cambridge, Ont., and 4389064 Nova Scotia Ltd. are jointly facing seven charges under Nova Scotia's Fire Safety Act.

The charges include failing to have proper fire extinguishers in a kitchen and on all floors, along with not having the proper number of exits on the building's second and third floors.

Several students placed plastic candles alongside a photograph of Rajesh Kumar Gollapudi, 33, who was killed in a Sydney, N.S., house fire in mid-December.
Several students placed plastic candles alongside a photograph of Rajesh Kumar Gollapudi, 33, who was killed in a Sydney, N.S., house fire in mid-December.

Rajesh Kumar Gollapudi, 33, was honoured during a candlelight vigil held in Sydney, N.S., following his death. (Erin Pottie/CBC)

The companies also allegedly failed to provide exit signs, a handrail, and did not have the required closures in fire separations for exits.

Representatives from the two companies are expected in court in January to enter a plea.

Gollapudi's friends and classmates said he was a well-liked man who arrived in Sydney in September 2021.

Following Gollapudi's death, concerns were raised about a growing number of rooming houses in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the need for more fire safety measures.

About 50 students held a candlelight vigil and march in memory of Gollapudi in the weeks following his death.

Officials with the provincial Fire Marshal's Office have not said what caused the fire.

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