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

Surrey shootings ends city’s hiatus from violence since outset of pandemic

So far this year there have been 24 shootings in Surrey. There were 45 in 2019

South Surrey banner drop marks Global Day of Action

Fridays for Future effort targeted four city overpasses

Delta police launch drone program

Drones can fly day or night in a variety of weather to help Delta police and firefighters

UPDATE: NDP asks Elections BC to investigate Liberal voter fraud allegations in Surrey-Fleetwood

Liberal MLA candidate for Surrey-Fleetwood Garry Thind issued a written statement Wednesday afternoon

TB Vets funding new respiratory equipment for critically ill patients at Delta Hospital

$19,000 gift to buy a glidescope needed for intubating patients in cardiac or respiratory arrest

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

B.C. VOTES 2020: Businesses now owe $6 billion in deferred tax payments

COVID-19 relief from remittance to province ends with September

Long-term care study credits fewer COVID deaths in B.C. than Ont. to funding, policy

The study was published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal

Most Read