1 dead after camper van fire in Victoria park; major crimes investigating

·2 min read
A camper van caught fire at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria on Thursday, according to police. One person was later found dead. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC - image credit)
A camper van caught fire at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria on Thursday, according to police. One person was later found dead. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC - image credit)

One person has died after a camper van caught fire at a park in Victoria early Thursday.

Victoria police were called to Beacon Hill Park downtown shortly after 8 a.m. PT. Firefighters were already on scene trying to put out the flames in a camper van with red and silver stripes.

One person was found dead, according to a statement from police.

Alex Painter witnessed the fire Thursday morning and is organizing with other van dwellers to provide fire safety equipment to those who can't afford it.
Alex Painter witnessed the fire Thursday morning and is organizing with other van dwellers to provide fire safety equipment to those who can't afford it.(Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

Alex Painter lives in a van that was parked nearby and says he awoke to the sound of city staff trying to wake the occupant of the burning van.

"By the time I actually got out of my van, there were six-foot flames shooting out the roof," he said

Painter, a member of a #Vanlife group said after the fire this morning he and several other members have been discussing buying smoke detectors and mini fire extinguishers to hand out to people living in their vehicles who can't afford them.

'Honest dependable man'

William McDougall was a friend of the man who died. He says his friend's death is a tragedy made worse by the fact he was waiting to get housing that never came.
William McDougall was a friend of the man who died. He says his friend's death is a tragedy made worse by the fact he was waiting to get housing that never came.(Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

William McDougall knew the deceased.

He said his friend was in his 50s and had spent his life as a merchant marine sailor.

"He was an honest dependable man that you could trust and had your back when you needed it," said McDougall, fighting back tears.

McDougall says his friend's death is tragic, made worse by the fact he was waiting to get housing that never came.

"He got on all the lists with Pacifica Housing and B.C. Housing and he would phone them every week. And he really did want a place and he was always disappointed when it didn't come through," said McDougall

The force's major crime unit is now investigating. No further information was released.