Authorities at the scene of the Occupy Calgary protest are investigating a tent fire that witnesses say was started by a candle that had tipped over. The fire resulted in the hospitalization of two men who were reportedly burnt by melting nylon material.
The tent was one of about two dozen at the five-weeks-old encampment at Olympic Plaza in Calgary. It caught fire at 1:30 a.m. MT, reports CBC News.
A protester who was sleeping in a tent nearby said "he awoke to a scream of 'fire.' By the time he got out of his tent, he says two other men had already put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher."
Fire crews say the tent was smoldering when they arrived on the scene. The occupant of the tent had been pulled to safety. Chris Beggs, a camper at the Occupy Calgary protest, told CTV.ca, "the victim is in shock. He's got some pretty significant burns to his hands where he tried to push the nylon away. The nylon lit up and was gone within three to five seconds."
A second man who assisted in putting out the fire was also burned. Both men were transported to the hospital and were listed in stable condition. The cause of the fire has not been confirmed by investigators at Olympic Plaza.
Police and bylaw officers issued 42 notices to participants in the Occupy Calgary protest on Tuesday, ordering them to remove tents, signs, bikes and other property from Olympic Plaza by noon on Wednesday. Signs have been posted warning that violators could face fines ranging from $100 to $1,000 if they do not obey the order to remove their personal property from the encampment.
Defiant protesters were expected to seek an injunction from the court to stop the removal of the tents by police. "If they want to come down here and start issuing fines then they're going to have bogged-down bylaw officers and bylaw judges because we're going to be fighting them all, because we have every right to be here," Chris McMillan told CBC News.
Bill Bruce, head of bylaw and animal services told the Calgary Herald, "The fire and injuries change things, and the situation has escalated. It moves things up when you start invoking things around public safety. That changes some authority, I think, and it escalates the need to bring this to a conclusion.”
He said protesters could expect to get tickets from police if they refuse to comply with the notice. However he added, "that the city and fire department have authority to declare a cold-weather emergency, which is what we do to get homeless people out of dangerous situations and in safe shelters."