While a Saanich Police officer was in the process of arresting a man who had set up a homeless encampment under the bridge at Interurban Road and Burnside Road West for having a stolen scooter, the man’s belongings caught fire.
Det. Sgt. Damian Kowalewich with Saanich Police say an officer driving by the area around 7:45 a.m. went up to a homeless encampment to investigate a light, then started a conversation with the man living there.
“Conversation ensued, which led to our officer checking a scooter that was on scene and turned out to be stolen,” Kowalewich said. “During the arrest procedure there was a wooden structure that the male had next to him that appeared he had built up and that began to smoke and go up in flames.”
The officer made an effort to put out the fire, and called for the Saanich Fire Department to respond.
Capt. Ryan Loyer of the Saanich Fire Department tells CHEK News the fire was caused by a cookstove.
“Upon arrival, we found [Saanich Police Department] on scene they had made contact with one of the homeless members there whose camp had been lit on fire by an unattended cookstove,” Capt. Ryan Loyer with the Saanich Fire Department tells CHEK News. “SPD attempted to extinguish it with their extinguishers, which didn’t quite work, so as Engine One arrived, we deployed a handline and put out the fire.”
No one was injured in a morning blaze under the bridge at Interurban Road and Burnside Road West, according to Loyer.
Loyer says all the homeless person’s belongings were destroyed in the fire, or by the foam and dirt in extinguishing the fire.
Loyer and Kowalewich say no one was injured in the fire.
Public works attended to remove the debris, and a structural engineer attended to ensure the structural integrity of the bridge was not affected.
“Other than just paint and some smoke on the structure itself, the structure was deemed safe,” Loyer said.
Kowalewich says the man was issued release documents and charged with possession of stolen property.
This is a developing story. More details will be added as they become available.