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Woman pleads guilty to murder for deadly Canby Park fire

Beatriz Fana-Ruiz

The woman accused of starting a fire that resulted in the deaths of several Wilmington firefighters has plead guilty to arson, assault and second-degree murder. 

Delaware Department of Justice officials say Beatriz Fana-Ruiz started the 2016 fire in the basement of her Canby Park home as a reaction to her living conditions. 

Firefighters Christopher Leach, Jerry Fickes and Ardy Hope were killed while responding to the blaze. 

DOJ officials say the deal with Fana-Ruiz will include a “lengthy” jail sentence as well as drug and alcohol treatment.

In a statement, DOJ officials said although Fana-Ruiz did not intend to physically harm anyone, her actions were “reckless, dangerous, and tragically, fatal.” 

The case against Fana-Ruiz was not the only one related to the fire. 

Firefighters who survived as well as family members of those who died filed a federal lawsuit against Wilmington officials last summer that alleges the deadliness of the fire resulted from a Wilmington Fire Department policy of temporarily taking fire engines and crews out of commission to cut costs.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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