British Columbia

Man deliberately set on fire, suffers severe burns: Campbell River RCMP

The 20-year-old was found in a parking lot by fishermen early Tuesday morning, police say.

20-year-old was sleeping underneath highway bridge when incident happened early Tuesday, police say

Crime scene tape across a trail in Campbell River, B.C., near where police say a 20-year-old man was deliberately set on fire while sleeping under a bridge. (Campbell River RCMP)

A 20-year-old man was deliberately set on fire while sleeping underneath a highway bridge in Campbell River, B.C., police say.

Fishermen discovered the man with severe burns to his back in the parking lot of the Brick store near the Campbell River at 7:30 a.m. PT Tuesday, according to RCMP.

He was taken to hospital and treated for serious but non life-threatening injuries.

Investigators say they believe the victim was set on fire in the early hours of the morning. He managed to shed his burning clothes before making it to the parking lot. They say some of his possessions were taken from the area.

Const. Maury Tyre described the incident as horrendous.

"We at the Campbell River RCMP intend to use our resources to locate the individual/individuals responsible for this incident and hold them legally accountable," he said.

No youth shelter in city

City manager Deborah Sargent said the level of violence was not typical for the community.

"But unfortunately it is an extreme example of the dangers faced by people sleeping rough," she said. 

According to the Salvation Army's Sue Moen, who also serves on the Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness, youth homelessness is a problem in the area.

"Anecdotally we hear from youth workers ... that a significant number of young people are experiencing homelessness," she said. "We have no youth shelter in Campbell River and very limited housing for youth at risk." 

Moen said homeless youth are often subjected to disrespect and hate from others. 

"They try to stay in places where they can be safe, whether it's hidden in the bush ... or downtown in doorways or an alley so they aren't preyed upon ...  but they're extremely vulnerable."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Campbell River RCMP at 250-286-6221 and reference file 2020-12211. 

with files from Kieran Oudshoorn