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Vernon homeless camp destroyed in fire

Residents who were already living rough have now lost everything in blaze

Several residents who were already living rough have now lost everything in a blaze that destroyed their home.

A fire broke out in a homeless camp Sunday around 9:20 a.m.

BX-Swan Lake fire chief Bill Wacey said it was a large blaze with heavy black smoke between Swan Lake and the railway, off Highway 97.

“We arrived to a fully involved homeless camp burning, a pile of garbage and a whole raft of household stuff,” said Wacey of the blaze that was contained to the single camp, despite eight or nine others in the area.

“People that were in there were using a bucket brigade to knock it down. But it was such a huge fire.”

Those living in the tent had been there for more than a year, according to Wacey, and there is no emergency social services support for them.

A stove inside a large tent is believed to be the cause.

The tent was complete with beds in it and furniture in what Wacey described as a hidden little village across the highway from Bannister Honda.

“It’s sad people have to live that way,” he said.

But he is concerned that burning is taking place while a fire ban is in effect.

Two people were issued fines under the Wildfire Act and one person was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

No injuries were reported.

It was also a challenging area to access and manoeuvre through for fire fighters.

“You had to climb over garbage to get there,” said Wacey.

This is the sixth homeless camp blaze that BX crews have responded to this year, all of which present challenges with hazardous materials.

“You never know what you’re going to find in those places,” said Wacey.

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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