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Kingston, Ont. firefighters remove wood cabin from encampment due to alleged fire risk

The City of Kingston says firefighters removed a wooden cabin from a Belle Park encampment. (City of Kingston/handout) The City of Kingston says firefighters removed a wooden cabin from a Belle Park encampment. (City of Kingston/handout)
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The City of Kingston says firefighters removed a wooden cabin from Belle Park because of what it said was an "immediate threat to life."

The city says fire inspectors have taken steps to remove or reduce "immediate threats to life" at the structure on three separate occasions since Feb. 6. Inspectors have also visited the encampment 31 times in that same period.

On Wednesday, firefighters helped get someone out of a burning tent, Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Donaldson said.

"This took place on the same day Kingston Fire & Rescue removed a structure where multiple heating devices have been seized in recent weeks," he said in a news release.

"We remain very concerned about the devices being used inside flammable tents and more permanent structures including BBQs for open air fires, homemade woodstoves to provide heat, a gasoline generator which was providing power to numerous electrical appliances and a space heater installed on top of clothing."

Encampments have been in Belle Park for several years now. The City of Kingston has tried numerous times to evict people living in tents and other structures in the park. Last November, a person living in the encampment died.

The city claimed in a news release Wednesday that the removal of the wooden cabin was under the authority of section 15 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act and is not related to enforcement of the Parks Bylaw's prohibition on daytime camping.

Section 15 gives the fire marshal or fire chief broad powers to remove people or items from premises where there is "reasonable grounds to believe that a risk of fire poses an immediate threat to life." 

The city says social workers were on hand to offer support to anyone affected by the removal of the structures from the park.

Temperatures in Kingston have been unseasonably high the past two days but are set to plunge in the evening. A flash freeze warning is in effect.

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