The aftermath of a fire that occurred early morning Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020 in Mark's Nature Park in Parksville. (Mandy Moraes photo)

UPDATE: No injuries reported, Parksville nature park closed following early morning blaze

City crews conducting hazard assessment

Three Parksville Fire Department trucks were dispatched to deal with an early-morning blaze Thursday (Nov. 26) at Mark’s Nature Park.

Approximately 250 feet into the park from Finholm Street north, near the centre of the park, a tent and several belongings had caught fire.

Fire Chief Marc Norris said the blaze appeared to have started in an encampment. No one was in the tent but according to Norris, no one took ownership of that particular location.

“There was a propane barbecue and possibly a propane heater there. It’s most likely that the equipment was too close to the tent, or even in the tent,” said Norris.

He said there was no indication of suspicious activity or if the blaze was set intentionally, but “it’s not out of the realm of possibility.”

Beyond the encampment, the fire extended into the surrounding vegetation but didn’t go far, given the current wet and cold conditions, and only took a few minutes to put out.

The biggest hazard that the PFD found were a couple of 20-pound propane cylinders, as Norris described, ‘the size you would normally find on a barbecue.” Firefighters found the cylinders inside the fire on their arrival and had to remove them to eliminate the danger.

Norris said “it would take a significant volume of fire to get to the point where they would actually explode,” and that it wasn’t an immediate concern, other than as a fuel source for the blaze.

READ MORE: Campers in Parksville nature park cleared out by bylaw officials

The fire chief said the department gets called out to Mark’s Nature Park approximately twice a month now.

RCMP and bylaw officers at the park at 10 a.m. would not comment on why they were on-scene.

Cpl. Jesse Foreman of the Oceanside RCMP confirmed the police were called by the fire department and attended the scene at 5:22 a.m.

“We got there, determined there was nothing suspicious, then we cleared,” said Foreman.

He also confirmed that police were at the scene again to assist bylaw officers with clearing the park of campers.

A camper in the park confirmed he was in the area when the fire started.

“I was sleeping in bed right beside the fire… I woke up, could hear my friend saying ‘help! help! help!’ so I pulled him out of the fire,” said the man. “I pulled them out of the tent and then they ran off. Don’t know where they went.”

He admitted that no one he knew in the park had a phone and had no way of calling for help. But he believes the PFD arrived approximately 20 minutes after the fire started.

He believes the fire may have been caused by a candle inside the tent from someone trying to keep warm.

Another eyewitness to the blaze, who requested to remain anonymous, said “time kinda goes by when you’re sitting there watching somebody’s house go up.”

The City of Parksville issued a press release saying the park is closed to allow their staff to conduct a hazard assessment. The public will be advised when the park reopens.

“Our crew, with heavy equipment moving in and out, will now be working in the park to cleanup fire debris and assess the affected areas,” read the release. “Some trees in the park are affected and with the already compromised condition of some cedar trees, hazard assessment is necessary.”

The city is still without a cold-weather shelter, which was the concern for many campers, noting conditions will only get colder and wetter.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The intersection of Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street, where a child was struck and injured in November 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
High-traffic Parksville intersection to get temporary 4-way stop

City staff to monitor effectiveness of traffic-calming measure at Despard and Moilliet

A Parksville Fire Department’s firefighter hoses down the facade of a Parksville Heritage Centre building after it caught fire on Friday afternoon (April 16). (Michael Briones photo)
Fire crews, roofers work to douse building fire in Parksville

Damage was minimal and workers escaped injury

Cast and crew of the Hallmark Channel series ‘Chesapeake Shores’ as they film at Parksville beach on April 15, 2021. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Fifth season of ‘Chesapeake Shores’ looks to showcase Parksville Qualicum Beach region

Executive producer: ‘We’re really excited for the fans to experience the fifth season’

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed Harbour Air and Air Canada flights to and from Nanaimo, from April 3, 4 and 12, on its list of flights with COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported for Nanaimo flights, says disease control centre

Nanaimo flights for April 3, 4 and 12 listed on BCCDC’s list of flights with COVID-19

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Most Read