Heater fire kills man sleeping outside near Quadra and McKenzie

'A tragic way to go' for 43-year-old well known in street community

A 43-year-old homeless man has died after the portable-heating device he was using to keep warm while sleeping outside caught fire.

Thomas Theodore Fisher, of no fixed address, was sleeping in the vicinity of the Telus complex at Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue early Sunday. The Telus building is adjacent to an area of trees and bushes that is known by police to attract occasional campers.

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Saanich police and paramedics responded to an emergency call about a man with burns and Fisher was taken to Royal Jubilee Hospital, but he died Sunday afternoon.

The early Sunday temperature was around 7° to 9° C.

The death was deemed a non-police matter and the B.C. Coroners Service took over the case. Details and the identity of the victim were released Tuesday.

Fisher is fondly remembered by Rev. Al Tysick, the former executive director of the Our Place social agency. Tysick has since founded the Dandelion Society, which also serves Victoria's street community.

Tysick said he will be conducting Fisher's memorial service next week at Our Place, on Pandora Avenue. He said Fisher got along with people, although Our Place staff said he was also something of a loner.

"He was well known and well liked in the street community," Tysick said. "What a tragic way to go."

Tysick said Fisher had been homeless in the past, but always kept an upbeat demeanour.

"He always had a good sense of humour about him, no matter what situation he was in. He's going to be missed."

Police arrived on the scene first and administered first aid, Saanich police Sgt. Dean Jantzen said.

"He was still alive when they got there but he was in serious medical distress," he said. "It was traumatic for our officers."

The Coroners Service is continuing its investigation, but police do not consider the death suspicious.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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