1 dead after camper van fire in Victoria park; major crimes investigating
Firefighters found body after extinguishing the flames, police say
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 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 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 Victoria Police Department's major crime unit investigated the death. On March 11 it declared the incident to be non-suspicious.