No one was injured after a fire broke out at a notorious Port Alberni property last weekend.
The Port Alberni Fire Department was called out to a fire at the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue just after 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12 and discovered two different trailers adjacent to each other were both on fire.
“The call came in from a patrolling RCMP officer who had happened upon the fire,” explained PAFD Chief Mike Owens. “Our duty crew was able to respond expeditiously and suppressed the fire before it was able to spread to adjacent RVs or to the [Wintergreen Apartments] structure itself.”
Recreational trailers began appearing on the Wintergreen Apartments property on Fourth Avenue (across from the Bottle Depot) back in 2020. The property owner, Randy Brown, says the trailers are providing shelter for some of the city’s homeless population, but the City of Port Alberni has expressed concern about numerous zoning, building code and fire code infractions surrounding the trailers.
Owens said no one was in the trailers at the time of the fire, but several tenants were displaced. The Alberni Valley Emergency Support Services (ESS) team was contacted and set up a reception centre at the Bread of Life to assist those who had been displaced by the fire.
BC Ambulance also attended the scene of the fire as a precaution, said Owens, but treatment was declined.
Investigators have been at the scene over the past few days. Owens said the cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but it does appear to be accidental, rather than suspicious.
This is the second trailer fire at the Wintergreen Apartments since the trailers started appearing there in late 2020. The property has been the subject of numerous calls to the police, fire department and bylaw services over the past two years.
“We continue to go down there often, both proactively and in response to incidents,” Owens explained.
At the end of 2021, the city announced that it was establishing a supportive housing task force to look at short- and long-term housing options for residents of the Wintergreen Apartments trailers.
“The city recognizes that before people are displaced from the trailers, there needs to be safer alternate housing available to them,” Mayor Sharie Minions said at the time.