A tent at Saanich’s tent city in Regina Park has been destroyed after a fire started Sunday around noon.
The Saanich Fire Department says they responded after reports of a fire and possible explosion. Upon arrival, they found a smoldering tent.
“The cause of the fire is under investigation, the occupant advised us that they may have left a cigarette,” Said Brock Henson, assistant deputy cheif at the Saanich Fire Department.
“I am thankful the fire took place during the day, I am thankful there were no injuries… and thankfully there was no one in the tent.”
Marilou Gagnon, an activist and associate professor at UVic said on social media that camp residents successfully extinguished the fire.
Arguments regarding the camp concluded in a Victoria courtroom Friday, as the District of Saanich and the province are seeking an injunction to remove campers from a tent city.
The judge in the case will deliver a decision on Sept. 7.
The proceedings on Monday began with the tent city residents’ lawyer, John Heaney, cross-examining Saanich Fire Chief Mike Burgess.
Heaney questioned Burgess repeatedly about why the municipality hasn’t provided camp residents with any fire extinguishers, water, or fire suppression training in the event a fire does break out — something camp organizers have requested in writing.
Burgess argued that the best way to maintain fire safety in the encampment is for residents to abide by 11 fire orders that have been previously been issued. The orders include proper egress around each tent, the use of non-flammable tarps, and no cooking appliances in covered areas.
He said without complying with those orders there remains a high risk of catastrophic fire at the site that could cause serious injury or death, adding that a fire extinguisher would have very little impact.
“We don’t provide fire extinguishers to the public, we have been working with the occupants on fire prevention… we continue to work with campers to get those 11 fire safety order items,” Henson told CHEK news following the fire Sunday.
Some of the fire orders in place are that there should be no smoking in the park, all tents should be separated by one metres, tents should be three metres from the bushes and no flammable fuel containers should stored in the tens.
After the hearings, the district said in the meantime Saanich fire and parks departments with Saanich police will continue regular site visits to attempt to mitigate fire and life safety risks in the park.
Activists say the Sunday incident points to the need for fire equipment to be provided, and say Saanich fire continues to refuse providing fire suppression equipment.