A Sept. 21, 2018, file photo shows tents at the nearly two-year-old Anita’s Place homeless camp in Maple Ridge.
Francis Georgian / PNG
An evacuation order was issued late Friday at a Maple Ridge homeless camp that has seen three destructive fires in the past week.The city said the order was issued for the campsite dubbed Anita’s Place by the provincial fire commissioner after an application by Maple Ridge Fire Chief Howard Exner.The written evacuation order is as “a result of the existence of fire hazards and the risk of explosion” on the site, said the city in a release, noting “an imminent and serious danger to life and property if persons are permitted to occupy” the camp.The order comes after three fires in the past few days, in which flames broke out as a result of dangerous fuel sources on site, said the city.“Multiple propane cylinders have been found in the remains of the burnt structures, including cylinders that have completely exploded due to the extreme heat from the fires,” said the city.There were no injuries but several tents and other structures on the nearly two-year-old campsite were destroyed. The cause remains under investigation.Earlier Friday, the city said it was stepping up the police and local fire department presence in order to ensure the safety of residents in and around the camp.The evacuation order from the fire commissioner includes a requirement to remove all fire hazards from the property.The city said it would reach out to B.C. Housing to ensure occupants have shelter during the evacuation.Last weekend, fire and bylaw officials entered the camp, with support from the RCMP, to enforce an injunction ordering the removal of propane-fuelled heaters and stoves. Six arrests were made.Pivot Legal Society, which represents the campers, alleges the injunction was contravened when city officials and Mounties cut heat to a warming tent and kept healthcare and service providers from entering the camp.— With a file from The Canadian Press