Crews are cleaning up after explosions and yet another fire erupted at a homeless camp in the Lower Mainland community of Maple Ridge, only days after authorities removed heat and electrical sources as they enforced a court order.
Residents in the area of the Anita Place Tent City reported hearing “multiple explosions” around 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday.
Jaime Chalmers, who lives a block away, heard the explosions. “It sounded like someone drove a car through my front room. The whole house shook.”
She she said ran down to the homeless camp. Flames shot higher than nearby tents and a tall tree was ignited.
“There was a huge plumage of black smoke from tent city,” she added. “It was like a volcano erupting.”
It was not immediately clear if anyone was injured, nor what caused the fire and explosions. The fire department has not yet commented.
It was the seventh fire at the homeless camp since its inception in May 2017.
On Sunday, six people were arrested for violating the City of Maple Ridge’s court order at the camp to address safety issues by removing heat sources and propane tanks that had been tampered with.
— phil melnychuk (@philmelny) February 27, 2019
Before the explosions, Ivan Drury, with Alliance Against Displacement, had told Black Press Media residents were starting to bring back heaters and fuel into the camp.
“Guess what happens when there’s no police?” said Drury, who was also arrested on the weekend and released. “You’re going to take them away, people bring them back. So what’s the point of this? It’s just an exercise in force.”