A tent burned next to Anita Place Tent City on Wednesday. It didn’t spread into the camp. (Contributed)

Update: Small fire near Maple Ridge tent city

Occurred outside camp Wednesday night

The Anita Place Tent City had a close call Wednesday night when a tent caught fire outside the encampment.

Chris Bossley, who helps out at the camp, said that Maple Ridge firefighters were called to the tent city at about 9:30 p.m.

“I was told that someone intentionally set the tent on fire. It was not an accident,” Bossley said.

She was also told that there were no injuries.

The fire didn’t happen inside the tent city on St. Anne Avenue, but outside the fences.

Fire chief Howard Exner said the call came in at 8:45 p.m. and said there are no injuries. But it’s not sure what started the fire. “We’re still looking as to what’s going on with that one.”

Exner said it’s fortunate the fire didn’t start within the camp.

The fire department is down there weekly doing inspections and noting that tents do not have a metre space between each other or the perimeter fence.

Improvements are being made but it’s slow in coming, he added. New tent pads on plastic pallets will be spaced out so that tents have more space between them. “As it is right now, it’s a slow, long process,” Exner said.

Fire safety concerns was one of the reasons for the city resuming an injunction to clear the camp in November.

The city and lawyers for the camp then agreed to improve fire safety conditions and suspend the injunction.

“They are, it’s just that it’s being done very slowly. We would like to see it accelerated, let’s put it that way.”

Exner said that once a fire starts in the camp, “in amongst all those tents piled together, there will be nothing we can to prevent the loss of life, injury and certainly the loss of property that takes place.”

He added it’s not that uncommon. There have been previous fires in homeless camps and there was one recently in Vancouver, and a recent fatal fire in Chilliwack.

The heavy tarps could also fall on to tents trapping people inside.

“So it does happen. And all the best intentions in the world won’t prevent it from happening, unless people start following what we’re looking for in the fire-safety regulations.”

As the temperatures get colder, the danger grows as people start thinking about bringing heaters inside tents. But the tents are not rated for heaters, and both gas and electrical heaters are dangerous to bring into a tent, and none of them should be used inside, either because of the fire risk or carbon monoxide risk, Exner said.

Dave Cudmore, who lives at the camp, was in his tent when he heard a commotion outside. The fire was out however by the time he got there.

But all he heard was people yelling at the homeless and telling them to get out of town, stuff they hear all the time, he added.

Listen Chen, with the Alliance Against Displacement, blamed city council for normalizing hate against the homeless and not taking “a firm anti-hate stance on behalf of the people at Anita Place.”

She said the lack of an explicit statement from the city opposing hate is a “glaring oversight” by council which has “subtlely and implicitly” normalized the blaming of homeless people.

B.C. Housing is currently looking for a location in Maple Ridge for a temporary shelter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER: Look for real, whole story around blockades

Please take time to research all the truths behind First Nation concerns: reader

UPDATED: Police say a man was not stabbed, afterall, in Maple Ridge altercation

A man told staff at the Salvation Army, where he sought help, he had been stabbed

Suspected pepper spray in Pitt Meadows

Occurred late Monday morning

The Fenton Pump Station in Pitt Meadows is to be replaced

The city received $740,000 in provincial funding for the project

Surge in Fraser Health home-care complaints concerns seniors advocate

Number of people complaining about home care has risen substantially over the last four years

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

White Rock woman says blocking ‘service dog’ from transit a denial of human rights

White Rock’s Lisa Arlin says guide-dog certification is voluntary

UPDATE: Two missing scout leaders found near Sooke after swollen creek traps troop

Third leader and scouts located, prior to search for two leaders who’d gone for help

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway

An unstable airmass is producing heavy flurries over parts of the southern highway passes

Most Read