Encampment Fires On The Rise in Cobourg

In Local

Emergency crews in Cobourg were kept busy once again on Friday, September 15, 2023.

Fire crews were dispatched three times in 24-hours to an encampment fire between the CP and CN tracks on Division Street across from the VIA entrance.

Fire crews responded to 14 incidents including another fire at another encampment along with medial calls on Friday which puts a strain on resources.

“There are vandals coming along and just setting things on fire,” said Deputy Chief Kevin Ashfield.

Firefighters have found a number of reasons for the fires at encampments including for heat, cooking, and burning plastic or other material off of copper wire which they then turn in for money.

“It’s been a busy day for us.”

The rail lines were expected to clean up the debris from the encampments so there will be nothing left to burn in the area.

With every fire call, even though there are full-time firefighters, part-time firefighters respond as well, and there is a cost with that.

“It cuts into our budget costs, it’s cuts into a lot of overtime. We’re bringing firefighters in to the scene, we now have firefighters back at the station to backfill for us to other calls. There is an increased cost everytime we have calls like this.”

Another issue emergency services are finding at encampments are trip-wires or booby traps.

Ashfield said the trip wires were possibly set up for when other people come into their encampment.

“So they’re trying to stop people from coming into their area.”

“Sometime you come into these areas and you find some weapons, sometimes you find drug paraphernalia, needles and our guys have to be careful they don’t get injured working up in these areas.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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