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.

Just Posted

Team BC advancing undefeated in junior nationals

A Langley-based team is 6-0, thus far, at the Canadian curling championships.

VIDEO: Rivermen back on the ice in Langley tonight

In their game against West Kelowna tonight, Langley’s junior A hockey team gets into action at 7:15.

Langley serves as backdrop to pair of competing short films

In the 20th annual Crazy8s Film competition, two of six producers will be filming in Langley.

Fraser Valley Thunderbirds perched in first place

Minor midgets, including several from Langley, hit the ice again on Friday.

Chances coming for public to have say on Langley tax rates

Local councillors will soon debate property tax rates for 2019.

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

LNG Canada support far outweighs protests, CEO says

Andy Calitz vows completion on schedule at B.C. Natural Resource Forum

B.C. Green Party leader calls for Assistant Deputy Speaker to step aside

Weaver alleges whistleblower was fired after looking into the Liberal MLA’s expenses

B.C. man says he was evicted due to ‘personal vendetta’ against his toddler

Matt Astifan says he has tried to do what he can but a young child will always make some noise

Case of B.C. man caught with 27,500 fentanyl pills thrown out due to Charter breach

‘Ambiguous’ signal by drug sniffer dog Doodz leads to B.C. Supreme Court decision

B.C. animal killer Kayla Bourque guilty of breaching conditions

Bourque is expected to be sentenced on Feb. 8

Men allegedly tied to Red Scorpions gang arrested in B.C. drug busts

Nanaimo RCMP have made multiple arrests and seized drugs, weapons and cash

Man pulls over to help injured owl, gets hit by SUV

Chase RCMP say owl flew away while they were on scene

VIDEO: Soon-to-be-extinct caribou moved to B.C. interior

The three caribou are being held in pens north of Revelstoke

Most Read