THUNDER BAY – A Simpson Street business owner says the setting on fire of nine vehicles overnight at a vacant lot behind her store is troubling for a variety of reasons.
Christine St. Amand, whose family runs Northern Windows and Doors, said they’ve called city bylaw officers in the past in an attempt to get the lot cleaned up, but until Thursday, had not heard back.
“There is a community of people living back here and it’s really sad to see because it’s a safety issue for them, for us. I’ve literally seen them come out with their backpacks on heading to wherever it is for their day. There are parties on weekends,” St. Amand said.
Thunder Bay Fire Rescue were called to the scene just after 6 a.m. on Thursday morning, and a police presence was also spotted in the area, ensuring no one was hurt in the vehicle fires, which left charred wreckage behind.
Later in the day, a man carrying an axe in one hand and a suitcase in the other, could be seen digging through the wreckage.
Several car seats have been removed from vehicles and placed in a circle around a makeshift campfire, complete with cooking grill.
“It’s really sad to see.”
St. Amand said she’d like to see the lot’s owner clean it up, though she has yet to approach them with the request. There are a number of former taxicabs included amidst the vehicle scrap-yard, many with smashed out windows and missing parts.
The fire was a wake-up call, she said.
“It’s scary, absolutely. It could put us out of business,” she said.
“I would like to see the cars gone. It’s sad to say that, because I know this is where people are sleeping, but it’s not safe and it’s starting to get colder – and fires are going to happen. I’d like to see the cars gone. I don’t see the reason for this many vehicles to be here.”
St. Amand said they finally got a phone call back from city bylaw on Thursday.
“They’re looking into some things related to zoning, on whether this is even allowed. There should be fencing at least around this for the safety of everybody.”
Dougall Media has reached out to the city’s licensing and enforcement office as well as the property owner, but have not received a reply from either party.