Fire Chief Howard Exner investigates the scene of Wednesday’s first fire at Anita Place Tent City. (THE NEWS/files)

Evacuation order granted for Maple Ridge tent city

Provincial fire commissioner supports request by fire chief.

After three fires in two days this past week, and nine total since the inception of Anita Place Tent City, the City of Maple Ridge was granted an evacuation order Friday for the homeless camp on 223rd Street.

The city was advised that an evacuation order was issued by the Provincial Fire Commissioner after an application by Maple Ridge Fire Chief Howard Exner.

The written order describes that the evacuation has been ordered as “a result of the existence of fire hazards and the risk of explosion” and that “there is an imminent and serious danger to life and property if persons are permitted to occupy.”

The order follows three fires – two Wednesday and another early Friday – at the municipal property.

Multiple propane cylinders were found in the remains of the burnt structures, including cylinders that had exploded due to the extreme heat from the fires.

No one was injured in any of the fires.

The order includes the stipulation that “all fire hazards, including flammable liquid and flammable compressed gas containers be removed from the property. In making the order, the Provincial Fire Commissioner calls upon the “assistance of police and local fire prevention authorities.”

The city is coordinating evacuation plans with the Maple Ridge Fire Department and Ridge Meadows RCMP.

“The city will reach out to B.C. Housing to ensure that the camp occupants have shelter during the evacuation period.”

Earlier Friday, the city doubled security around the camp and requested additional police attention.

“At the end of the day we want everyone to feel, and be, safe,” said Mayor Mike Morden. “I also ask that people who are frustrated with the situation stay clear of the camp and give our law enforcement and fire professionals the space to do their work.

“What’s been taking place at the camp is untenable and unacceptable for the camp residents, the people in the neighbourhood and first responders.”

Chris Bossley, a camp volunteer, said Anita Place residents aren’t sure what they’ll do, although Pivot Legal Society is expected at the camp early Saturday.

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