(Facebook)                                Fire at Anita Place Tent City on Sunday.

(Facebook) Fire at Anita Place Tent City on Sunday.

UPDATE: Maple Ridge fire department investigating tent blaze at Anita Place

Fifth fire at homeless camp in 18 months.

Residents of Anita Place Tent City fear a fire at the camp Sunday evening was deliberately set.

Around 7 p.m., camp residents heard a “bang,” then the sound of a vehicle speeding off.

Dwayne, a camp organizer, heard the commotion, grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to help put the fire out.

But it grew too fast, he said.

“I was trying to make sure nobody was in there.”

The fire department arrived quickly, he added, and put out the fire.

It destroyed an unoccupied tent, and the blast knocked over two others.

The fire occurred near 223rd Street, said Dwayne, who lives in a shack he constructed at tent city.

“It was right on the fence line,” he said.

“It’s been done before.”

The Maple Ridge fire department is still investigating Sunday’s fire.

“Last night was less than an ideal time to do a fire-cause investigation,” Fire Chief Howard Exner said Monday, as it was dark and rainy the night before.

He did, however, confirm, that firefighters found debris in the tent that was consistent with “some bangs of some sort.”

While he couldn’t elaborate on what the debris was, he said it’s not unlike materials likely associated with most all of the tents at the camp. He also said the tent appeared to have been used for storage.

Exner added that firefighters responded within five minutes of the 911 call and controlled the fire with one hose, initially from outside the blue fence that surrounds the camp.

They then moved in to ensure it was out.

The fire chief said it was the fifth fire at the camp the department has responded to, and that two of them were “incendiary.

“We believe we know who started them,” Exner said, although the department has not been able to prove that.

Of the four previous fires, Exner added nothing indicated they were started outside the camp. He asks anyone with information, or video, regarding the latest fire, to contact the fire department.

Ridge Meadows RCMP will become involved in the fire department’s investigation if it is found that anything criminal took place, said Sgt. Brenda Gresiuk.

Regarding the previous fires, Dwayne said twice that gas cans were set up against tents and ignited.

Fire destroyed a tent just after Christmas last year.

The fire department has conducted numerous safety inspections at the camp and has long sought to improve safety there, such as having gas cans removed.

The fire department even considered seeking a compliance order from the B.C. Supreme Court.

Dwayne is concerned for the safety of camp residents, not just because of the fire, but also the cold.

“This is a hard time of year,” he said.

Camp residents, estimated to between 40 and 80, have no heat sources, he added. They are not allowed to have open flames, or use generators or car batteries.

Without heat, though, Dwayne said, they will die.

“We’ll freeze to death.”

Fearing that, he added, camp residents will do what they have to do to survive.

A warming tent was added to the camp last December, followed by washrooms and a shower. But Dwayne said campers still need to be warm when they sleep.

“Tell us what we can use,” he said. “People are going to die because of stupid choices. But it’s survival. You have to do things to keep warm. We don’t have a lot of money, we don’t have a lot of options.”

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Maple Ridge elementary school exposed to COVID-19

Exposure event at Glenwood elementary the seventh in past two weeks

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Upset by being called an ‘idiot’

Maple Ridge writer disagrees with majority on COVID safety protocols and their impacts

Ron Paley took a kayak trip around Siwash Island, off the Pitt River near Grants Narrows. “With life’s turmoil, I find peace on the waters,” he shared. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Tranquility found on the water

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

The Ridge Meadows Flames have announce an outstanding coaching staff for the coming season.
Ridge Meadows Flames add top local coaches to already impressive staff

Bobby Vermette and Brett Sonne announced as new assistants

CubicFarms have announced the addition of Janet Wood to its board of directors. (Special to The News)
Pitt Meadows/ Langley grow tech business names new member to board of directors

Janet Wood will join the agricultural firm after a brief stint as pres and CEO of Science World

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10 million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, at press conference Monday. (Submitted photo)
Crime Stoppers receiving $200K from province for ‘Guns and Gangs’ tip line campaign

Executive director Linda Annis broke the news Monday morning in Surrey

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10 million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Vancouver Police Department)
Vancouver police ID 6 gangsters who pose a ‘public safety risk,’ launch gang task force

VPD asking public to stay away from these six people, who they say may be targeted in shootings

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
10-hectare fire near Harrison Mills rages out of control as second blaze ignites

A second fire burns near Silver River on east side of Harrison Lake

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Kayak the humpback whale was found dead on a Haida Gwaii beach on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Marine Education and Research Society)
Kayak the humpback whale found dead on Haida Gwaii beach

Whale was estimated to be only 18 years old

Most Read