British Columbia

Body discovered in aftermath of shed fire on Surrey property

The Surrey RCMP Serious Crime Unit is investigating after the discovery of a body inside a burned-out shed on a vacant residential property. The identity of the person police believe to be homeless is still unknown.

Surrey RCMP Serious Crime Unit is now investigating, but identity of person not known

Surrey RCMP and Surrey Fire Services investigate the discovery of a body inside a shed following a fire on a vacant residential lot May 24, 2019. (Shane McKichan)

RCMP in Surrey are investigating after a body was discovered in the aftermath of a shed fire on a vacant property at 97A Avenue and 137A Street early Friday morning.

Surrey Fire Services was called to the wooded residential lot at 2:30 a.m. where police say a homeless camp had been established. The body was found after the fire was put out.

"It was a fire in a shed that was located in this vacant lot that was occupied by a homeless [person], and that after the fire was extinguished they discovered the remains of one person inside that shed", according to RCMP police spokesperson Cpl. Elenore Sturko.

Homeless advocate saddened but not surprised

An advocate for Surrey's homeless population says what happened is tragic but not surprising.

In 2017, at the height of Surrey's homeless crisis on 135A Street — the so-called Surrey Strip — Erin Schulte says her work veered from serving bowls of soup to the homeless to injecting Narcan to save those same people from overdosing.

Schulte's voice choked as she remembered watching city officials and police follow through on a promise to remove Whalley's tent city residents into new modular housing.

"I said that when 135A was disbanded or when they forced everybody off that street, I said that we would be seeing more dead bodies in school fields and in derelict backyards and sheds and these places that people are finding shelter in the rain when it gets cold", said Shulte.

The Surrey RCMP Serious Crime Unit is investigating and co-oridinating with Surrey Fire Services to determine the cause of the fire.

The B.C. Coroner Service is working to identify the body.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502.