News Views: Preventable

Already a fire hazard, Anita Place now plagued by arson

Someone is setting fires at Anita Place Tent City.

Given so, the city’s fire department must be given the authority and access to make the camp fire-safe, regardless of the politics of homelessness in Maple Ridge.

On Sunday evening, a fire at the homeless camp on 223rd Street started with an explosion. The force of the blast knocked over two tents, and burned another, which was unoccupied. It had been used for storage.

Twice last year, gas cans were set against tents and ignited, according to camp residents. Fire Chief Howard Exner has confirmed two previous fires were incendiary, and indicated there is a suspect.

We can’t say at this time these criminal acts were done by members of the community who want the camp cleared, and the public should not jump to that conclusion. There is the possibility the fires originated with a camp resident, or multiple. Ridge Meadows RCMP have confirmed that they have been called to violent incidents, including those involving knives, at the camp in the past.

What we do know is that there have now been five fires at the camp to which the Maple Ridge fire department has responded. They were on scene within five minutes on Sunday, and were fortunately able to quickly control the blaze. Nobody was hurt, this time.

Chief Exner has remained apolitical about the camp, but has loudly sounded the alarm about fire safety. The city and those who speak for the camp – the Alliance Against Displacement – have an obligation to heed his warnings and take real action to protect the camp residents.

There was a cleanup in September, ordered by the Office of the Fire Commissioner. However, wood structures have not been removed, and propane tanks and other ignition sources are still there.

Complicating matters is the approach of January and a long stretch of cold weather. There are temporary solutions offered in the warming tent at Anita Place, the Salvation Army shelter, and the Mat Program, which brings people indoors at local churches. Whatever objections camp residents have to attending these facilities, bringing in gas cans and creating other fire hazards cannot be their alternative.

Playing with fire is a recipe for disaster, one that can be prevented.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadodws News

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

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows pickleball pro wins pair of medals in Toronto

Steve Deakin switched to the sport from tennis a couple years ago and never looked back

Maple Ridge wrestlers dominate provincials

‘Truly amazing,’ said Maple Ridge coach Bill McCrae

Looking Back: Student and youth protests go way back

Nothing new when it comes to carrying signs

LETTER: Pitt Meadows prof locks himself away to learn more about today’s budget

B.C. budget risks reducing life expectancy by over investing in medical care: Kershaw cites study

LETTER: ICBC changes a ‘breath of fresh air’

A Maple Ridge resident welcomes the new changes and impact on rates

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Maggie and Tim: A residential school survivor and her son who died on B.C. streets

Part one of a two-part series on a young man’s tragic death and his mother’s survival through hardship

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Most Read