Skip to main content

Tent fire at Halifax's Grand Parade leaves volunteers calling the situation an 'emergency'


An early morning fire has shaken the homeless encampment at Grand Parade in downtown Halifax.

Clouds of thick smoke billowed from one of the tents at city hall on Saturday.

Richard Young was sleeping when he woke up to screams. When he came out he said he saw smoke fill part of the property and then noticed the fire.

“It all went up in probably about 13, 14 seconds. All gone,” said Young.

The volunteers on the ground, Stephan Wilsack and Matthew Grant, grabbed fire extinguishers and blankets to smother the flames.

“Three individuals nearly lost their lives,” said Wilsack.

Firefighters attempt to put a fire out in Halifax's Grand Parade. (Courtesy: Stephen Wilsack)

Wilsack believes the individual living in the tent’s heater caused the fire.

“Probably propane and a blanket being caught on the fire,” he said.

Wilack and Grant promptly contacted the fire department for assistance. As smoke poured from the tent, firefighters doused it in water.

What remains of the tent is a daunting sight for those living in the encampment. What was once a home is now a charred shell.

The smell of melted plastic lingers in the air. A few of the individuals belongings that were salvaged lay nearby. All of it is a devastating blow said Richard Young, who also lives in the encampment.

“How would you react if you lost everything you own in the world? Anything you ever cared about, anything that had any value to you and not have a place to go,” said Young.

The aftermath of a tent fire in Halifax on Dec. 9, 2023. (Hafsa Arif/CTV Atlantic)

The volunteers on the ground are shaken.

“All they want is help and these people are broken and it’s breaking me. It just breaks my heart,” Grant said tearfully.

Wilsack told CTV News the man who was living in the tent was left devastated. Along with most of his belongings, cherished memories of his daughter were also caught in the fire.

As tent communities grow in the city, the demand for propane is on the rise and so is the fire risk.

A fire extinguisher is seen at a homeless encampment at Grand Parade in Halifax. (Hafsa Arif/CTV Atlantic)

On Thursday, crews put out another fire in a tent in Victoria Park, and some volunteers are calling this an emergency.

“This isn’t something that we figure out three or six months from now waiting for tiny homes to come. We need to get this solved now. More people are going to die. More people are going to do things that they shouldn’t be doing because they’re out in the cold,” said Wilsack.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

'Rust' armourer gets 18 months in prison for fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin on set

A movie weapons supervisor was sentenced to 18 months in prison in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of the Western film "Rust," during a hearing Monday in which tearful family members and friends gave testimonials that included calls for justice and a punishment that would instill greater accountability for safety on film sets.

Donald Trump hush money trial, explained

All of Donald Trump's trials and the characters involved make for a complicated legal mess, particularly when the four criminal cases are added to Trump's civil liability for defamation and sexual misconduct and for business fraud. Here's what to know to get up to speed on this first criminal trial, starting April 15, 2024.

Here's what to expect in the 2024 federal budget

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will be presenting the 2024 federal budget on Tuesday, revealing how the federal Liberal government intends to balance the nearly $40 billion in pre-announced new spending with her vow to remain fiscally prudent.

Prince Harry in legal setback about security protection in U.K.

Prince Harry's fight for police protection in the U.K. received another setback on Monday, when a judge rejected his request to appeal an earlier ruling upholding a government panel's decision to limit his access to publicly funded security after giving up his status as a working member of the royal family.

Stay Connected