A woman suffered life-threatening injuries after an early-morning fire Nov. 8 engulfed her tent in flames behind the Cross Connection Church downtown Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

UPDATE: Chilliwack homeless woman engulfed in flames in tent fire

Woman sleeping behind downtown church in hospital with life-threatening injuries

A woman is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after an early-morning fire in a tent next to a downtown Chilliwack church.

Chilliwack RCMP and BC Ambulance received a report around 3 a.m. on Nov. 8 of “a woman who was engulfed in flames,” according to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail.

RELATED: Fire breaks out at Chilliwack homeless camp under the overpass

A woman suffered life-threatening injuries after an early-morning fire Nov. 8 engulfed her tent in flames behind the Cross Connection Church downtown Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

The Chilliwack Fire Department also attended putting out the fire that caused some damage to the rear wall of the Cross Connection Church at Williams Street and Princess Avenue, and completely destroyed the woman’s tent and her belongings.

She was taken to hospital with serious burns, and is now recovering in the burn unit at Vancouver General Hospital.

Rail said police and the fire department are investigating the cause of the fire but so far they are not finding any evidence of foul play.

He did not know the age of the woman or where she is from.

A distraught Tom Spooner, a long-time downtown homeless man, was near the location of the fire at around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. A woman with him said Spooner felt guilty for not watching out for the woman who was in the tent.

“I don’t think she’s going to make it,” the woman said, adding that the injured woman was trying to keep warm with candles in her tent.

A few hours before the fire at the church, the Chilliwack Fire Department responded to report of a fire at a homeless encampment off Rowat Avenue.

At around 11:40 p.m., crews arrived from Hall 1 to find a fire near the railroad tracks. The fire was contained quickly and there was no damage to nearby structures.

“However, crews had to use extreme caution while containing this fire because small propane cylinders and aerosol canisters were exploding as a result of the heat and flames from the fire,” according to a Chilliwack Fire Department press release.

Both incidents point to the serious issue of homelessness as the cold weather arrives.

READ MORE: Opinion: Homeless at risk in winter weather

Last December, six tents were destroyed in a fire in a homeless camp on Railway Avenue under the Yale Road overpass.

And that same month a 51-year-old Chilliwack woman died in the now-dismantled homeless camp near the Evans Roundabout. Glenda Herrling was killed when snow on her tent collapsed the structure.

READ MORE: Chilliwack woman dies in woodland homeless camp

While early indications are that the Nov. 8 fire was accidental, Chilliwack RCMP ask anyone who may have seen anything to call 604-792-4611 or, to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vedder Rotary trail network in Chilliwack will be closed for five days on the south side

The upgrade will take until Friday so trail users asked to take alternate routes

Chilliwack encouraged to commemorate liberation of Holland

Planning already underway to mark the 75th anniversary of the event

UPDATE: RCMP confirm body of missing Chilliwack senior found

Ethel ‘Grace’ Baranyk had severe dementia

RCMP urge caution for back to school drivers

Police are asking drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians

UPDATE: Police response on Cheam First Nation a ‘non-event’, RCMP say

More than two dozen RCMP and ERT vehicles were at the First Nation looking for a known fugitive

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Memorial to deceased teen stays in place through Labour Day

Hundreds of tributes have been left at the Walnut Grove skate park

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Most Read