Fire crews are investigating after a blaze in downtown Nanaimo destroyed multiple tents and led to a number of propane tanks exploding on Wesley Street.
According to Nanaimo RCMP, the fire started after a propane tank exploded in one of the tents Thursday afternoon.
“There was a ripple effect,” said Const. Gary O’Brien with Nanaimo RCMP. “It destroyed a tent and most of the other tents beside it.”
Nanaimo Fire Rescue received the call at 12:13 p.m. and four engines responded.
Once crews arrived on scene, the fire was under control within minutes, said Brad Wood, assistant chief with Nanaimo Fire Rescue.
Fire crews also cooled off remaining propane tanks.
Although the RCMP said the explosion started the blaze, fire investigators are still on scene and Nanaimo Fire Rescue has not yet released the official cause.
The 400 block of Wesley Street is fully evacuated and closed to public access.
Nanaimo RCMP said there were no injuries but officers remained on scene to assist. Bylaw officers and firefighters worked together to evacuate those near the encampment.
Agencies are now in the process of clearing out the encampment, securing the site and making it safe. The city of Nanaimo said in a press release they are in contact with provincial partners who will be supporting impacted residents.
In October, police increased bylaw enforcement in this same encampment to help keep those living there safe and separated.
O’Brien added it’s common for officers to find propane tanks in tents in the area, either for heating or cooking.