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

RCMP, BC Coroners Service investigating fatal explosion at camp

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

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