One person is dead after a camper van caught fire Thursday morning in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

One person dead after vehicle fire in Victoria park

Investigation into Beacon Hill Park death in early stages

Michael Lockhart, 60, is dead after a vehicle fire in Beacon Hill Park Thursday morning. (Courtesy of Ryan Lockhart)

Police tape and a blue tarp shielded the public from the scene of deadly vehicle fire in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park Thursday morning.

Family confirmed that Michael Lockhart, 60, died in the fire.

The Victoria Police Department was called to the park just after 8 a.m. for reports of a fire. When Victoria police arrived, firefighters were still working to extinguish the blaze.

Alex Painter was in his van Thursday morning when he heard banging.

“I saw some of the city workers hitting the side of the gentleman’s van over there and I saw some smoke coming out of the roof,” he said. “By the time I actually got outside of my vehicle to see what was going on the fire trucks had shown up and there were, quite literally, six-foot flames shooting out of the roof of his van.”

Major Crime Unit detectives, Forensic Identification Services and the BC Coroners Service were on scene investigating as others who call the park home learned what had happened.

READ ALSO: Fire rips through tents, wooden structures in Beacon Hill Park

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Friends of the man who died identified him as ‘Mike.’

“Very nice guy, older man,” said Nikki Skjonsby, who also lives in the park. Through tears, Skjonsby said the incident will reverberate in the community.

“He’s been living in his van here in the park way longer than I’ve been here. It’s family here. We all take care of another. You have to, when you’re living out here.”

William McDougall said his friend was living off a pension after a career as a sea merchant and trying to get housing.

“He really did want a place and he was always disappointed when it didn’t come through,” McDougall said. “He really missed having a shower and things like that.”

The death is the second in the park in just two days. On Wednesday, police were called to a sudden death near Cook and Douglas streets. That death is still under investigation.

READ: Victoria police seeking witnesses of sudden death in Beacon Hill Park

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