A North Vancouver man has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly dousing an acquaintance with camping fuel and setting him on fire during an alcoholfuelled argument on the weekend.
New details of the incident have emerged in the days since the attack, including an account from a man who says he saw it first hand.
Brian Kenneth Pert, 34, has been charged with the attempted murder of 56-year-old Russell Rozell.
Pert has been released on bail, under conditions to stay away from Rozell and the hospital where Rozell remains in a medically induced coma after suffering burns to 50 per cent of his body.
Rozell's friend Michael Smith said he's not happy to see Pert has been released.
Smith said he arrived at Rozell's camp on his bike just as the two men were "duking it out" on the grass. Moments later, Smith said he saw Pert set Rozell alight.
"I jumped off my bike and ran across the lawn," yelling at his friend to drop and roll, he said.
Smith described Rozell as a fellow North Vancouver bottler who is homeless and used to live under the bridge at the bottom of Brooksbank Avenue.
On the day the fight broke out, Rozell and Pert had been drinking vodka together.
Geoff Bodnarek, an outreach worker with the North Shore branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, said he also knows Rozell and was shocked to hear about what happened. "He's a very nice guy," he said. "He's always been polite and respectful."
Bodnarek said he didn't know about the camp near the Holiday Inn but said Rozell has been receptive to visits from outreach workers in the past in different locations.
Since the events of the weekend, the District of North Vancouver has asked that the secret campsite be taken down.
Jeanine Bratina, spokeswoman for the district, said district staff didn't know about the camp, hidden in the bush between the Highway 1 on-ramp and the Holiday Inn on Lillooet Road.
"There's always concern for the safety of people who are camping out," said Bratina. She said district staff also worry about the possibility of fires being started in the bush and getting out of control in the hot, dry season.
In this case, Rozell was squatting on land owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Highways. Bratina said the municipality has asked the ministry to dismantle the camp. Usually when camps are discovered, district staff go to the site with outreach workers and give the occupants notice that they have to leave, she said.
But that doesn't always happen, said Bodarek.
He added homeless people on the North Shore who sleep rough outside face a variety of challenges.
Some people have had windows smashed while they slept in their cars, he said. One man had a propane tank in his tent blow up. Others have encountered bears.
Outreach workers estimate there are about 300 homeless people on the North Shore - a number that far outstrips both the official counts and the number of shelter beds available.
Some homeless people don't want to go to the shelter, said Dave Newberry, community liaison with the North Shore Lookout Emergency Shelter.
"Some people have been outside for a very long time and that's where they're comfortable," he said.