Some people on the Sunshine Coast are now without the shelter they had following a fire that broke out on Good Friday.
No injuries were reported in the abandoned commercial building in downtown Sechelt where the Sechelt Fire Department was dispatched to around 9:27 a.m. April 15, said fire chief Trevor Pike. Halfmoon Bay Volunteer Fire Department was called to be on standby and the Gibsons and District Volunteer Fire Department’s Ladder 1 was brought in to assist. Five apparatuses and 23 volunteers responded, said Pike.
“The fire was brought under control within 20 minutes and crews stayed on scene for another hour to overhaul the building,” said the fire department’s Facebook page.
The fire was at the former site of the South Coast Ford shop (the site is no longer leased or maintained by Ford), in which people experiencing homelessness had been staying. Pike said they’re still trying to determine who owns the site.
“During our investigation, we determined…that there's a homeless encampment inside the building,” said Pike. “At this point, we believe that the fire was caused by an unattended propane campfire ring that was left in the mezzanine area where the homeless people were sleeping and it had combustibles placed too close to the fire ring.”
“Fortunately enough, though, they were able to escape and no civilians or firefighters were injured during firefighting operations.
“We feel pretty lucky that that was the case.”
Pike said the structure would likely need to be demolished. “It's been vacant for years and it hasn't been maintained.”