This is the camp at the corner of 10th Avenue SW and 17th Street SW near Buckerfield’s where a man died in a fire that consumed a makeshift home in the early hours of Thursday, March 5. Although friends say Vinny Larson was the man killed, police say a positive identifcation will have to be completed medically. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

This is the camp at the corner of 10th Avenue SW and 17th Street SW near Buckerfield’s where a man died in a fire that consumed a makeshift home in the early hours of Thursday, March 5. Although friends say Vinny Larson was the man killed, police say a positive identifcation will have to be completed medically. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

‘Don’t judge a person’ says friend of Salmon Arm man who died in fire

Memorial to be held Wednesday, March 11 at 11 a.m. at Salvation Army church

Intelligent. Generous. Good.  

Those were the words that came up repeatedly when friends of the man killed in a fire in Salmon Arm on March 5 spoke about him over the weekend.

Staff Sgt. Scott West reported on Monday, March 9 that a positive identification must still be made via medical means, but friends say the man killed in the fire was Vincent (Vinny) Larson.

At the site of the fire, a small memorial with flowers and stuffed animals includes a sign: “RIP Vinny.”

West also stated that a “possible next of kin” has been notified.

Fire crews were called to the fire at the corner of 10th Avenue SW and 17 Street SW near Buckerfield’s about 5 a.m. Thursday, where they found a makeshift home in an outdoor camp fully engulfed in flames.

After the fire was extinguished, a search was conducted and the deceased individual was located.

Witnesses reported hearing explosions, likely due to propane tanks and fuel containers at the scene.

“At this time criminality is not suspected in the man’s sudden death…” police said in a news release March 5. The investigation is still ongoing, West said Monday.

Greg Webber, who is also without a home, was a friend of Vinny Larson for the past three years. He said Larson, who he thinks was 54, was very generous and very smart, able to fix or build anything.

Another couple of friends who didn’t want to be named said his latest project was a solar generator.

Read more: Fire at homeless camp leaves one dead

Read more: Five years ago, homeless man ‘had everything’

Larson was opinionated and outspoken, Webber said, but able to do the things he claimed he could do.

He was incredible, really. If you looked at him, you wouldn’t think he was. You’d think he was full of hot air when he talked, but then he’d do it. Anything he told me he could do, I’ve seen him do it.”

He also helped a lot of people.

Webber said Larson used to have a lot of money but had been homeless for about a year and a half. He said Larson wished he had a better relationship with his parents.

Larson didn’t drink but would use drugs, he said. Although he sometimes had sores on his face, Larson said those were from an infection, MRSA, that he picked up at a Vancouver hospital.

“He had a very bad problem with MRSA… It was gross, really gross. Medication is expensive but he did everything he could. He paid more attention to that than anything else.”

Bobby Rousseau, another man who is homeless, also spoke highly of Larson.

“I was pretty devastated when I found this out…,” he said. “He was a good man. He was really well liked – a lot of people liked him.”

He had been facing legal charges and part of the bail was to have a curfew check. So police would check his camp to make sure he was home.

He called it ‘bush arrest,’ Rousseau said. “He was really funny.”

Larson was going to move to Skimikin in an RV and Rousseau was going to stay with him.

“He built this little shack. He was a really good carpenter. He had heat, he had power.”

Webber said he believes the fire was an accident, a horrible mistake.

What would he like to say to people about Larson?

“Don’t judge a person. He was a very good guy.”

A short memorial will be held for Vinny Larson on Wednesday, March 11 at 11 a.m. at the Salvation Army church, 191 Second Ave. NE.



marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon ArmHomeless

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)
Interior Health notes 80 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

108 people in the region have died from the virus

This conceptual rendering shows 60 units of student housing at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College expected to be constructed in 2022. (Okanagan College image)
Student housing to be built on Okanagan College Salmon Arm campus

Province announces 60 beds to help ease housing shortage in community

The District of Sicamous is being asked to pull a resolution from the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club to keep loggers off managed sledding trails in the winter. (Jim Elliot-Eagle Valley News)
Sicamous snowmobile club pulls request to keep loggers off sled trails in winter

Resolution doesn’t get backing of BC Snowmobile Federation

The SASCU Recreation Centre will serve as a COVID-19 mass immunization clinic starting on March 15, 2021. (File photo)
Salmon Arm rec centre to serve as COVID-19 vaccination hub

Appointments being booked for seniors ages 90 and over, Indigenous persons 65 and over

Carson Meikle prepares a hot beverage while his mother, Jenna Meikle, is busy in the background at The Night Cafe, located at 146 Lakeshore Drive. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Artistic Salmon Arm entrepreneurs branch into culinary arts with The Night Café

Adam and Jenna Meikle grateful for ongoing community support

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice, and provides Kelowna Capital News with weekly stories from the world of local, national and international law. (Contributed)
Kootnekoff: Royal Dismissal

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, her diverse legal career spans over 20 years

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

(File photo)
RCMP seek witnesses after 2 different reports of man chasing children in Kelowna

Both incidents occured around Dougall Road in Rutland

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Most Read