Camp residents were escorted by police into the camp and given about 10 to 15 minutes to gather their belongings and vacate the camp, which is now closed. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Camp residents were escorted by police into the camp and given about 10 to 15 minutes to gather their belongings and vacate the camp, which is now closed. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Camp residents were escorted by police into the camp and given about 10 to 15 minutes to gather their belongings and vacate the camp, which is now closed. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin) Camp residents were escorted by police into the camp and given about 10 to 15 minutes to gather their belongings and vacate the camp, which is now closed. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

City dismantling Wesley Street homeless encampment after fire

Fire broke out at about 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3

The City of Nanaimo is dismantling the homeless encampment on Wesley Street after a fire there this afternoon.

Crews were called out at about 12:15 p.m. after a fire “fully destroyed multiple tents and triggered a number of explosions of propane tanks,” noted a city press release.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews extinguished the blaze and the 400 block of Wesley Street is “fully evacuated” and closed to the public, the city said.

Tim Doyle, Nanaimo Fire Rescue deputy chief, said in an interview at the scene that an estimated four to six tents went up in flames in the fire which broke out next to a staircase beside the Franklyn Street gym. The building suffered only minor damage because of a metal fence the city had installed to keep the encampment tents separated from the structure.

Staff in the city’s services and resource centre were evacuated temporarily.

Doyle said bylaws officers were the first city staff on the scene of the fire and helped evacuate people from the area and kept things calm until Nanaimo Fire Rescue arrived.

“Bylaws officers and firefighters worked together to tactically evacuate all the tent residents on Wesley Street,” Doyle said. “The 400 block of Wesley Street is currently evacuated and will remain closed to the public. Agencies are currently in the process of de-camping the residents, closing the site and making it safe again.”

Outreach workers arrived with pizzas for the estimated 60 residents who were living in the encampment. Residents were led into the camp by RCMP officers who were brought in to keep the peace, and given approximately 10 to 15 minutes to pack up their belongings and vacate the area. Doyle did not have word about where the camp residents would be going.

“The city is in contact with provincial partners who have mobilized to the site to support residents,” he said. “Agencies are working on it to help support the people who are displaced from the fire.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the suspected cause is a propane tank that caught on fire, possibly due to a malfunction. No one was reported injured in the ensuing blaze.

After the fire was brought under control, firefighters went through tents to remove “alternative” heating sources, which included a variety of devices that included heating units fueled by propane and fireplaces fuelled with wood and wood pellets and to ensure there was no one unaccounted for in the tents.

A backhoe was used to clear debris from the fire.

The Wesley Street encampment is closed indefinitely for safety reasons.

“We have a lot of tents in close proximity using alternative heating sources with the weather getting cooler and wetter…” Doyle said. “Right now Wesley Street’s being closed down. I can’t speak to what’s going to happen in the near future with that, but what I can say is with the tents in such close proximity, cold weather, wet weather persisting through the winter and alternative heating sources being used, it does set the stage for ongoing dangerous conditions in there.”

Doyle said there had recently been multiple fires that had occurred in the camp, which posed a danger to residents and the neighbourhood.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

fire

 

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Outreach workers brought pizzas and hot coffee for the estimated 60 camp residents who were evacuated. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Outreach workers brought pizzas and hot coffee for the estimated 60 camp residents who were evacuated. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Tim Doyle, Nanaimo Fire Rescue deputy chief, said Wesley Street is now closed to the public and the camp of people experiencing homelessness is closed indefinitely. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Tim Doyle, Nanaimo Fire Rescue deputy chief, said Wesley Street is now closed to the public and the camp of people experiencing homelessness is closed indefinitely. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Just Posted

Victoria’s economy is expected to bounce back fairly easily, according to a new report from BMO Capital Markets released April 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria in good position to bounce back post-pandemic, says BMO

City’s smaller size, lower COVID-19 caseload and diverse industry base bode well

This photo shows the aftermath of recent trimming by crews hired by BC Hydro. A spokesperson for BC Hydro says crews trim trees for safety not esthetics, while also noting that it will work with owners of trees wherever possible. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
BC Hydro says safety guides tree removal policy

Crown corporation says it will work with property owners wherever possible

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

Alex Mah of Chemainus spends a sunny day at Kin Beach reading to daughter Beatrice Mah. 3. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Vancouver Island’s mini-summer poised to fade

Cooler and damper this weekend, summer-like conditions not likely to return until late June

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Victoria police arrested three men following a double stabbing April 19. The two victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Three arrested after double stabbing in Victoria

Two people sent to hospital after being stabbed, hit with bear spray

A convicted sex offender, whose crimes included offences against children, was arrested at Gonzales Beach after the man was spotted by an off-duty officer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Convicted sex offender arrested at Gonzales Beach

After committing crimes involving children, offender barred from public beaches, being in proximity to kids

Most Read