A large fire at a homeless encampment early Monday morning was determined to be accidental, according to the Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office.
The fire started inside the tent of man who smokes and was also using canned heat canisters for cooking. The man was outside of his tent when the fire started, and he did not know which caused the fire, according to Assistant Fire Marshal Chad Lawry.
There was no evidence to support that the fire was arson, Lawry said.
Vancouver firefighters were dispatched to the blaze at about 12:15 a.m. at the end of Northeast 51st Circle, near the intersection with Northeast 112th Avenue. The encampment is near the Clark County Family YMCA.
Roughly 100 people were present when the fire started, according to Vancouver Fire Capt. Raymond Egan.
There were no reported injuries.
Petra Pandora, who lives near the encampment, told The Columbian in an email that she received a phone call from a camp resident asking her to call 911. After placing the call, she walked out her front door to see tall flames coming from the direction of the camp.
She said some people “lost everything they own because of the fire.”
Crews had the fire under control in about 15 minutes, Egan said. Firefighters stretched hoses several hundred yards past a barricade in the road leading up to the camp.
A brush rig, one truck, four engines, a battalion chief and a fire marshal all responded. A total of 18 Vancouver fire personnel were on scene, along with two Vancouver police officers.