Firefighters extinguished a fire at a homeless encampment this morning, following reports of explosions and flames at Bowen Park in Nanaimo.
First responders responded to a report of fire at the 700 block of Townsite Road at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 7, with the fire in a remote area of the park, on the north-side of the Millstone River, said Stuart Kenning, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief of operations.
“Access was a bit of an issue,” Kenning told the News Bulletin. “The fire was fairly large in nature, a lot of propane tanks going off and a lot of black smoke from the plastics involved. It took some time to locate the camp because we had to reposition the apparatus on the other side because it’s a bit of a cliff and they had sort of … trails and ropes going down to their homeless camp.”
Given recent rains, there was no risk of wildfire, and firefighters “pumped water from the duck pond area down the trail and across the river,” Kenning said.
“RCMP was on scene with us and ambulance was on scene,” said Kenning. “There was no one in the camp and no one around to give us any information on whose camp it was.”
City of Nanaimo bylaw officers were also on scene, according to Kenning, and had been there earlier trying to move people along.
“It’s going to be more of an issue in the summer time, but we did have a great response time,” said Kenning. “If we did have an issue, we were on scene and we could’ve attacked the fire differently to prevent spread, it wouldn’t have gotten near houses.”