A fire that burned an area of the patio at Montana’s BBQ and Bar early this morning was likely accidentally started by people experiencing homelessness, say police.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue was called to a report of a structure fire at the restaurant along Rutherford Road at Nanaimo North Town Centre at 5 a.m. Thursday, March 11.
Assistant chief Jodi Le Masurier said crews arrived on scene to find a fire that was “on the small side,” but still burning, and were able to knock it down quickly. She said because the fire was suspicious, the investigation was turned over to RCMP.
Police say there were no witnesses or surveillance footage, but there was also nothing to suggest the fire was intentionally set.
“They’ve had lots of problems with homeless [people] sleeping on the patio during the night…” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “It was probably an accidental fire used for heat.”
The fire got hot enough to melt aluminum and damaged the roof on the south-side patio and part of the walls on the building’s east corner.
O’Brien said businesses with covered areas might want to consider measures to make those areas inaccessible after hours.