The aftermath of a fire in a temporary camp area along the steep banks of the Fraser River off of Water Avenue. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

The aftermath of a fire in a temporary camp area along the steep banks of the Fraser River off of Water Avenue. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Hope crews put out structure fire at Fraser River camp

Fire in structure along steep river bank resulted in no injuries, fire chief confirms

Hope fire crews worked to put out a fire at a camp along the banks of the Fraser River July 14.

Fire chief Tom DeSorcy said four Hope firefighters worked on the structure fire at a temporary camp along the steep banks of the Fraser River. Two of the firefighters advanced down the slope fitted with lifejackets, while two other stayed at the top.

“We actioned it very cautiously from the slope, of course we were wearing proper gear because there were a lot of toxins – tarps, burning black smoke,” DeSorcy said. Firefighters from the wildfire service were called out, in the case brush caught fire, as well as ambulance personnel who had initially called in the fire.

The person associated with the structure was unaccounted for police said, so crews fought the fire aggressively in the case that there was someone inside. Shortly after, they were informed the person was at another place and accounted for.

When the Hope Standard visited the site July 15, the charred remains of the structure were evident in addition to debris floating nearby.

Since the fire, DeSorcy and the team’s fire prevention officer have gone out to various places where people who are facing homelessness make camp together with an outreach worker.

The visit was about education and fire prevention, a request DeSorcy said came from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“We’re not intending to go there and start enforcing fire safety, but to be there to look for concerns for public safety, for their safety,” he said. This includes pointing out potential hazards, while understanding people may need to have a fire to keep warm.

“Most people there, I know a lot of them personally. And people are people, you treat them with respect and dignity,” DeSorcy said.

Hope firefighters have been to several fire calls in various camps around the Hope area he said, including three vehicle fires in an area near Tom Berry Road over the past year.

Read more: Hope crews respond to small structure fire in ‘apparent homeless camp’

Sometimes passing drivers call in smoke sightings at camps not knowing they are fires for warmth and cooking, which the fire department then goes to check out.

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