Fires Starting in Homeless Camps

Homeless camp fires that spark larger fires pose a real danger in our Parkway; and also around the state, as this editorial from the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

An excerpt.

The fire that closed a San Jose street for two hours Tuesday night was among the most recent examples of what has become a disturbingly routine feature of California life: burning homeless camps.

Such camps have caught fire in recent weeks in Berkeley and at least twice near Interstate 880 in Oakland — which also saw a series of such blazes in the spring, two of them at a city-sanctioned encampment.

A Southern California fire traced to a homeless camp destroyed several homes in one of Los Angeles’ toniest neighborhoods this month, drawing national attention. While it made for a remarkable juxtaposition of extreme wealth and poverty, the fire’s origin wasn’t unusual. In fact, another blaze in the region that week was also attributed to a homeless encampment.

Flames have spread from cooking and heating fires in makeshift camps across the state this year. They have started alongside an interstate in Tracy and in a storm drain near San Diego.

Like the hepatitis outbreak that has afflicted San Diego and other parts of the state, the fires underscore not only the severity of the housing crisis but also its capacity for unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences.

One recent analysis found that human activity causes 84 percent of wildfires nationwide and an even greater share in California. The more than 90,000 unsheltered homeless people living in the state, who, according to the most recent government estimate, account for nearly half the nation’s total only heighten the risk.

Retrieved December 29, 2017 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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