Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, an early morning fire broke out at Kingston’s Sleeping Cabins Project, located at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.
The fire quickly consumed one of the cabins, while spreading to two others, culminating in what Kingston Fire and Rescue estimated to be approximately $60,000 worth of damages. Luckily, those damages were the worst outcome of the incident; all of those living in the cabins, as well as those working with Our Livable Solutions – the organization that oversees operations of the project – were able to escape the fire, sustaining only minor injuries.
Witnesses reported heroic actions on the part of the Sleeping Cabin residents and attending firefighters, who were able to rescue one of the residents who was trapped inside their cabin by the fire. While Kingston Fire and Rescue did not confirm these accounts when asked about them by Kingstonist, today, Our Livable Solutions Founder and Director, Chrystal Wilson, confirmed the valiant efforts.
“During the evacuation, our staff, Nick Carr, a resident, Bill Truman Jr., and a member of Kingston Fire and Rescue, used heroic efforts to evacuate one resident from his cabin. We are very thankful for their bravery,” Wilson said in a press release on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.
Wilson credited the fast reaction and practised methods of evacuation for ensuring the incident did not lead to a more tragic outcome.
“Due to the quick action of staff and residents, our fire protocol – which we have drills for – was followed and we were able to ensure all residents were accounted for, evacuated, and kept safe,” she said.
“Kingston Fire and Rescue responded promptly and were able to contain and extinguish the fire. Two staff received minor injuries, and were treated at the scene by paramedics.”
At the time, the City of Kingston, which approved and extended the Sleeping Cabin Project earlier this year, said they were working with Our Livable Solutions “to ensure that any affected individuals are offered support and accommodation.” Wilson spoke both to the involvement of first responders during the fire and in the aftermath, and what is currently occurring to keep those housed in the cabins warm and safe.
“We worked with other service agencies to ensure our displaced residents continued to have safe places to stay. We are cooperating fully with the Kingston Fire and Rescue, the Kingston Police Force and the City of Kingston while they conduct their investigation,” Wilson stated.
Now, the focus remains on ensuring the health – both mental and physical – and safety of the cabin residents are tended to, Wilson expressed, noting the impacts of the groundswell of support from local organizations and the community.
“We are also thankful for the outpouring of support we have received from the community. With support from Partners In Mission Food Bank, Community Friends in Motion, our neighbours and community donations, were able to replace lost food and money. Red’s Rack helped replace lost clothing, and we’ll be able to replace all furniture thanks to the Sisters of Providence,” she shared.
“AMHS (Addictions and Mental Health Services of KFLA), Street Health, and Home Base Housing all attended to their clients in our community to support as needed. St. Mark’s Lutheran and St. James Kingston helped replace lost cell phones. Trauma counselling is being arranged for staff and residents.”
And while the Sleeping Cabin site remains an obvious fire scene for the time being as police investigation and insurance assessments are carried out, Wilson expressed a confidence in the 15-resident community to overcome this obstacle just like the many obstacles they have overcome before now.
“Our cabin community is resilient and strong. We will review and implement any needed enhancements to our health, safety and fire protocols recommended by Kingston Fire and Rescue, and utilize the knowledge gained from this event to strengthen our community,” she said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Kingston Police, who took over the investigation from Kingston Fire and Rescue the same day the fire occurred. Police confirmed that no charges have been laid in connection with the incident.
For more information on Our Livable Solutions, visit the organization’s website.
Kingstonist will provide updated coverage on this matter as more information becomes available.