Four Edmontonians struggling with homelessness have perished by fire this fall, say city officials, strategizing to help prevent further such deaths.
“There have been four fire-related deaths this fall involving members of our community who are experiencing homelessness, and this is a tragedy.” said Rob McAdam, Deputy Fire Chief of Public Safety, in a Friday afternoon news release.
“The safety of all Edmonton citizens is, and continues to be, our top priority at Edmonton Fire Rescue. Individuals experiencing homelessness face unique fire risks. Fire Rescue and our community partners must evolve prevention efforts to ensure optimal safety for all Edmontonians.”
Those struggling to find shelter take refuge in encampments, abandoned buildings, or other structures which are unsafe, warns the city.
Earlier this week, a man was found dead in an abandoned building in northeast Edmonton after firefighters responded to smoke at the scene.
And over the past two months, three other separate fire events have contributed to the deaths of people experiencing homelessness.
Those deaths include:
-A fire-related death occurred in connection with a man gaining access to a former lodging house in downtown Edmonton;
-A fire-related death occurred in connection with a person intentionally gaining access to the inside of a locked waste collection bin;
-A fire-related death occurred in connection with a person seeking shelter in an encampment.
The City of Edmonton says it’s working with external partners to come up with strategies to improve the fire safety for all of the city’s vulnerable community members. Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, meanwhile, is working on a strategy to knock down the number of fires in unsecured vacant properties.
Edmonton is nearing its goal of creating 600 new supportive housing units by 2022. It continues to work with community partners to help Edmontonians without a permanent home get through the winter, funding expanded daytime shelter services and providing space for temporary, provincially-funded overnight shelters.
There are roughly more than 2,800 people with no permanent home and around 1,200 sleeping outside or in shelters on any given night, say officials.
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