A man was badly burned in the early morning hours Tuesday, April 13 in a wooded area off a walkway next to the Station youth housing facility (formerly Abbeyfield House), near the City of Courtenay public works yard.
It was around 3:30 a.m. when emergency personnel were called to the area, where it appears the man had fallen asleep beside a small fire.
“The man was able to tell police that he lit the fire to stay warm when his pants caught on fire,” said Monika Terragni, Comox Valley RCMP media relations officer.
The man was still on fire when help arrived.
“The RCMP and ourselves extinguished the fire and took care of the patient until BC Ambulance arrived,” Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said. “We assisted them, getting him out of a ditch and onto a stretcher, and they transported (him to hospital).”
Terragni said the man suffered from burns to his lower extremities.
Bardonnex guessed the man to be in his 40s. He added that nine firefighters and two RCMP members attended.
Andrea Cupelli, co-ordinator of the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, said the organization is “deeply sorry to hear about this tragedy.”
In January, she said the four local municipalities endorsed a housing proposal that outlined the need for an additional 50 spaces of emergency shelter to bridge the gap until another 50-100 units of supportive housing can be built. The coalition prepared the proposal, which was submitted to BC Housing and to senior government representatives.
“We continue to advocate for this plan as everyone deserves the right to a safe, warm place to rest their head at night, and to prevent tragedies such as this from occurring,” Cupelli said.