A fire sparked at an encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue early Thursday morning left one man displaced. Jan. 14, 2021 (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

A fire sparked at an encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue early Thursday morning left one man displaced. Jan. 14, 2021 (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Early morning fire claims one shelter at Greater Victoria homeless camp

One man displaced, no injuries reported at encampment between Pat Bay Highway, McKenzie Avenue

A fire sparked at a Greater Victoria homeless encampment early Thursday morning left one man displaced.

Just after 4 a.m. on Jan. 14, a 911 call came in about a fire at a “well-entrenched encampment” on Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure land between the Pat Bay highway and the McKenzie Avenue off-ramp.

The Saanich Fire Department responded and found an established fire upon arrival, explained Deputy Chief Dan Wood. He added that the blaze was bright and the smoke was dark because of the burning plastic tarps so it was visible from the highway.

A group of unhoused individuals have been camping on this piece of ministry land for about eight years. Officials were aware and have responded to other fires and noise complaints in the past, Wood said.

When firefighters arrived on Thursday, they found about four shelters built from palettes and roofing material, a greenhouse and a yurt.

READ ALSO: Island Health sets new daily COVID-19 case record despite stagnant provincial infection rates

Only one shelter caught fire and no one was injured, Wood said. The single occupant got out but has been displaced because his shelter was completely burned.

The fire was extinguished by about 4:40 a.m. and by 8:30 a.m., fire investigators and Saanich police were on scene looking into the cause. Wood said there was a wood stove in the shelter and a generator but the cause has yet to be confirmed.

He noted noise complaints and calls about open burning have gone up in the area because the newly completed apartments nearby overlook the encampment. First responders are getting fed up and the neighbours are irritated, Wood said, but as it’s out of their jurisdiction, they’ve been struggling to deal with it.

He added local officials will be speaking with representatives from the ministry again following this incident to determine a course of action.

READ ALSO: Saanich homeless camp expects to leave provincial land by Tuesday

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A fire sparked at an encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue early Thursday morning left one man displaced. Jan. 14, 2021 (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

A fire sparked at an encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue early Thursday morning left one man displaced. Jan. 14, 2021 (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

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