An Abbotsford business owner is fed up with ongoing issues involving an abandoned mobile home park on Allwood Street, after the third fire this year occurred Wednesday on the property.
Seung Yong Lee runs Master Lee’s Tae Kwon Do School, which is located directly beside the former Allwood Estates Mobile Home Park.
The property is known to house squatters, and crews were called Wednesday afternoon to put out a fire that shot up a tree beside Lee’s business.
Firefighters had to break down the front door to get into the building and hose it down to prevent the fire from spreading.
The blaze was quickly extinguished and Lee is grateful to crews for ensuring that his business did not suffer any fire damage, but he must shut down for a few days while the water damage is repaired.
Lee – and other business owners in the area – have been expressing concerns for months about homeless people setting up camp on the empty property, which is owned by Onni Group and is slated for development.
Lee previously found a bladed weapon – made from a pipe, a handheld microphone and the blades of a food processor – in the parking lot behind his building. He has also seen paint splashed on the back of his building, graffiti stenciled on the wall, and a water tap vandalized.
But his greatest concern is the damage that could be caused by a serious blaze.
“I’m very worried … You don’t need a fortune-teller to see what’s coming,” he said.
Lee said he has tried to contact Onni Group, with suggestions that they hire 24-hour security to patrol the lot, to no avail.
The Abbotsford News has also had no response to email requests to speak with an Onni representative.
Another business owner contacted The News after Wednesday’s fire, saying she, too, is troubled by the situation and says it is a “disaster waiting to happen.”
The woman sent photos taken of a camp set up on the abandoned lot, with three tiki torches leaning against a tree just six feet away from the fence for her business.
“There are three automotive shops right there. Do you understand why we are concerned?” she said.
The property has been vacant since mid-January, after the city received a rezoning and development permit for a 224-unit townhouse complex on the site. A start date for construction is not yet known, as the proposal is still making its way through the application process.
Since that time, the remaining structures have been destroyed.