DEL REY (CBSLA) – Residents of a Del Rey neighborhood say they live in constant fear of fires being set not far from their homes in a homeless camp along Highway 90.
“Last night, our neighbors down the block had a furious inferno behind their house,” said Colin Ryan, a resident of Del Rey.
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Ryan has documented how often and how close the fires get to people’s properties in his Alberta Street neighborhood.
“For the past three or four months, it’s been almost every week,” said Stina Badour, who lives in the same neighborhood. “They come and they put out the fire, and then they go, and two days later it’s another fire.”
The residents’ backyards are a front row seat to a dangerous show of fires at the homeless camp just meters away, across the creek, under Highway 90.
“It is not that they live there. It is not that they are homeless. We understand that they have nowhere to go. The main problem is that they are a constant danger to our neighborhood and we keep calling and it just happens. It’s a cycle over and over again, ”Ryan said.
His concern is shared by many residents throughout the city. This summer, the Los Angeles Fire Department is releasing data showing the number of fires involving homeless people tripled in the last three years.
Ryan said firefighters and the California Highway Patrol are responding quickly, but he is looking for a long-term solution.
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“We know these people have nowhere to go, and that’s ultimately the question here, but you know, it’s this balance between trying to protect your neighbors, your own neighborhood, your own property, and secure, that they are safe too, ”Ryan said.
Homeless spokesman Mel Tillekeratne says the long-term solution is supportive housing, which homeowners should stand behind but often do not.
“… do you want to say no and have a camp on your street where you do not know who lives there, you do not know what is going on there and where fires are a threat to your household?” Said Tillekeratne.
According to Tillekeratne, as long as there are camps, there will be risks for the accommodated and uninjured.
“The person who is in a tent that is burning, the person who is exposed to it, I have seen many people … it is a terrible way to die. It’s a terrible way to live afterwards. We have to look at it as if you know… yes, fire is a problem for the neighborhoods, but fires are also a problem for the people who live in them, ”Tillekeratne said.
For its part, LAFD teaches fire safety in the camps, where people often use fire for cooking and to keep warm.
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