‘Someone’s gonna die’: Nanaimo neighbours in fear after two large fires at problem lot in hours

'Someone's gonna die': Nanaimo neighbours in fear after two large fires at problem lot in hours

Lesley Williams checked on her horses Saturday, still shaken, after being woken by explosions and crackling flames pouring from a neighbouring Nanaimo River Road property hours earlier.

“It wouldn’t have taken much for it to spread to our trees, and our roof,” said Williams, a rural Nanaimo resident.

It was the second large fire to break out in six hours on the rural lot full of campers, tires and metal.

At 6 p.m. Friday, a fire sent flames shooting into the trees before volunteer firefighters from the Extension, Cedar and Cranberry departments knocked it down together.

“Seeing the trees candle like that and the proximity to our own property…” said Jani Drew, another longtime rural Nanaimo resident.

“This is where people live. This is where people could have died,” she said.

Ray Ferstel lost his camper in the fires.

“It just went up so fast. If the wind had picked up it could have burned the whole forest down ” said Ferstel, who was visibly shaken as he took in the debris of his former home Saturday.

His was one of two RVs that burned to char on the Nanaimo River Road property.

“It went from just a little tiny start and just erupted like flames were 35 feet high within seconds,” said Ferstel.

The property has become a makeshift off-grid camper park, piled high with tires, metal and containers and neighbours told CHEK News it is getting worse, despite countless complaints to the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) pleading for action to be taken.

“People are concerned about there being a housing crisis, this is unsafe. It’s not only unsafe for the neighbourhood, it’s unsafe for the people living here. Someone’s gonna die,” said neighbour Miles Drew.

Neighbours said they fear if the RDN doesn’t act soon on complaints, it could be their neighbouring homes or the vast expanse of forest in the area that’s next.

“We shouldn’t have to live like this, fearing that our properties are going to burn,” added Drew.

“Some action before someone dies.”

No one from the RDN could be reached for comment.

As neighbours prepare for another night on edge, drying conditions worsen the threat of fire even further.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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