A man experiencing homelessness was airlifted to a Victoria hospital after he set his pants on fire and burned himself consuming drugs in downtown Nanaimo yesterday.
First responders were called to a fire at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre parkade just after 2 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 28. Stu Kenning, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant fire chief, told the News Bulletin the incident occurred in a stairway.
“A person experiencing homelessness was in the stairwell and before, during or after the process of doing drugs, they lit their pants on fire and had significant burns to their legs,” said Kenning.
The patient was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, said he was then airlifted to a Victoria hospital and is in the burn unit.
According to a Nanaimo Area Public Safety Association press release, witnesses say they saw the victim lighting his pipe with a butane torch. The association said more needs to be done for people suffering from drug addiction and mental health issues.
“Unfortunately, the parking garage and stairwells at the VICC are being used non-stop by those using drugs and with mental illnesses,” the press release stated. “When will the provincial and federal governments put those suffering on our streets into complex care facilities so they, nor society, are harmed?”