A fire truck and police car park at the entrance to the Foreshore Trail about 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4 as fire crews respond to a report of a fire farther down the trail and just above the railway tracks, between Lakeshore Road and the tracks. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

A fire truck and police car park at the entrance to the Foreshore Trail about 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4 as fire crews respond to a report of a fire farther down the trail and just above the railway tracks, between Lakeshore Road and the tracks. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Fires in camps where people in Salmon Arm living rough spark concerns

Fire department doesn’t want to see another person injured or a fire in the city spread

Small fires around the city over the past few weeks have sparked concern from the Salmon Arm Fire Department.

Following a fire on March 4 above the railway tracks by the Foreshore Trail, Fire Chief Brad Shirley spoke about calls firefighters have responded to lately.

“We’ve had a few of them in the last couple of weeks. Small miscellaneous fires have been started, nobody around, we assume they’re homeless people trying to keep warm.

“We’ve been working with the RCMP, trying to find who is having these fires and educate them about the potential danger of not only harming themselves but other property,” Shirley said.

He pointed out that it was March 5, 2020 that a man living in a camp he’d set up near Buckerfield’s in Salmon Arm died in a fire there. The man was identified as Vincent (Vinny) Larson.

Regarding the recent fire near the tracks, Shirley said it was below the 1400 block of Lakeshore Road.

“It was a little challenging to get at given the terrain and close proximity to the railway tracks… Crews responded to what appeared to be a homeless camp on fire. There was an occupant there.”

Read more: 2021 – Salmon Arm Fire Department quickly extinguishes fire above Foreshore Trail

Read more: 2020 – ‘Don’t judge a person’ says friend of Salmon Arm man who died in fire

He said firefighters had to be extra cautious on the terrain and had to ask CP Rail to stop the train.

“We accessed it mostly from the bottom but also the top.”

Firefighters drove down the Foreshore Trail in order to get below it. They were there for about 90 minutes.

“Although there were some reports of an explosion, we weren’t able to find the source. When we have incidents at the camps, we often see propane bottles, whatever they use for heat.”

He said the fire covered about 20 square feet of ground, burning bushes and small trees as well as a number of personal items.

“These types of fires are concerning to us, especially once the drier weather is upon us. They certainly have the potential to become quickly out of control or harder to control,” Shirley said.

“Fortunately in this incident, no one was injured.”

Shirley said other recent fires have included one in the parking lot off Hudson by the Telus building, as well as one down over the bank from the Husky gas station.

He said firefighters are trying to work with the people who are living rough as well as the different agencies who help support them.

Read more: 2020 – Freezing to death seen sometimes as welcome option for Salmon Arm man

Read more: 2019 – Homeless tenters must move for four-laning preparation

Read more: 2020 – Freezing cold emphasizes need for drop-in centre for Salmon Arm’s homeless

Mayor Alan Harrison said the city shares Shirley’s concern about fires.

“As you are aware the Lighthouse Shelter now operates 24/7, providing meals and housing for those in need. In addition, Larch Place is now welcoming tenants, with Birch Place to follow in early summer. The supportive housing units in Cedar Place are due to open prior to next winter, providing shelter and supports to residents who stay there,” Harrison wrote in an email.

“Despite these housing options there are still people camping outside. Unauthorized camping is not permitted on city property, and our bylaw department enforces this. However, we do know that people are camping on other properties within the city limits. We will continue to work with the fire department, RCMP, outreach worker, CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) and other social agencies to assist.”

Asked about the possibility of a tiny-house encampment or something similar to house people who can’t stay in traditional housing for a variety of reasons, Coun. Louise Wallace-Richmond, who chairs the city’s Social Impact Advisory Committee, responded.

She said the city works alongside and supports the social services sector, because they are the experts in delivering services.

“If an experienced social housing provider were to consider delivering this type of service, the city would be consulted, a process would be followed and we would advocate for higher levels of government to assist if supported and needed,” she said.

She reiterated that camping in local parks and city facilities will continue to be strictly prohibited because of the high risk of fire.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon Armfirehomeless housing

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

Just Posted

School District 83 trustees are expected to be discussing the current Long Range Facilities Plan options at the April 20 school board meeting. (File photo)
Letter: Let the people have their say on Salmon Arm school options

Parent encourages School District 83 board to hold off on making a decision

South Shuswap. (Google Maps)
CSRD to ask school trustees to delay decision on Salmon Arm high school options

South Shuswap director advocating for Sorrento high school option

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Public input on the City of Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget is open until 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, 2021. (City of Enderby photo)
Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget open for public input

The proposed spending plan includes a 2.2 per cent tax increase; public input open until Monday

Glenn Moyer is seeking space on a public wharf in Sicamous in order to restart his water taxi business after a year-long shutdown due to COVID-19. (Glenn’s Water Taxi/Facebook)
Water taxi operator requests public dock moorage in Sicamous

Glenn Moyer, a long time water taxi operator, is brimming with stories of life on the lake

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

Demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Valen a student of Coldstream Elementary writes advice for adults amid a pandemic.
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Elementary students share their wisdom to adults in unprecedented times

Mervin Mascarenhas giving one of his pens to Honorary JP-MP. Premier David Burt of Bermuda. (Image: Mervin Mascarenhas)
Kelowna man who made $90K ‘Space Pen’ recognized by dignitaries, sheikhs

Mervin Mascarenhas is the first Canadian to grace the cover of Millennium Millionaire Magazine

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. health minister says delay in Moderna vaccine ‘disappointing’

‘The sooner we get vaccines in people’s arms the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame,’ Adrian Dix said Friday

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Most Read