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Series of fire calls plaguing Chilliwack downtown being ‘taken seriously,’ say RCMP

Chilliwack RCMP are ‘working with community partners’ on the safety issues caused by these fires

A series of fires that have erupted in downtown Chilliwack in recent months are the subject of investigation by both Chilliwack RCMP and Chilliwack Fire Department.

The latest was when Chilliwack fire crews were called to a vehicle fire on Railway Avenue in the early hours of Monday (Feb. 6) morning.

It was at least the fifth incident called in from Railway and Alexander avenues since last October.

During the cold weather, sometimes these types of fires are created by those experiencing homelessness as a “primary source of heat.”

“Police treat these types of calls seriously and work closely with the Chilliwack Fire Department both for the initial response and subsequent investigation as required,” said Cpl. Martin Godard, UFVRD’s crime prevention and youth officer. “During the colder weeks, the RCMP responded to several complaints where it was determined a fire was utilized as a primary source of heat.

“Needless to say, these types of fires pose a safety concern as they are an inherent risk to personal injury and structural damage.”

Chilliwack RCMP say they are “working with community partners” to educate people regarding these safety concerns and to ensure they are aware of alternatives in the form of shelters and housing.

“With respect to the vehicle fire of Feb. 6, the matter is still under investigation,” Godard added.

Crews were called to a pickup truck on fire Jan. 23 on Railway Avenue, which was the fourth incident in about a two-block radius in the previous three months. Fire crews were at the scene at 45890 Railway Ave. directing water to douse a black pickup truck on fire at the back of the lot close to the CN Rail line.

The fire on Monday (Feb. 6) was on the same lot as the Jan. 23 fire in an abandoned work van. Detritus on scene included clothing, personal belongings, and needles.

After a small fire was reported on Oct. 24, 2022 behind Ken’s Tire and Wheel nearby, fire destroyed a vacant house on Alexander Avenue on Nov. 1, 2022 just one block from the Jan. 23 fire.

A tire shop employee said there was another small fire nearby around that time, and then on Dec. 28, 2022 there was yet another vehicle blaze in an Alexander Avenue parking lot next to the business.

The cube van that caught fire in a parking lot on Alexander was the third in a small area in recent months in downtown Chilliwack. They all happened where three neighbouring properties meet at Alexander and Railway avenues.

RELATED: Van fire on Railway Monday

RELATED: Pickup truck fire on Alexander

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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