Los Angeles fire started in homeless encampment

jerry brown

Jerry Brown blames climate change for the fires in California. Wrong again with that fear mongering.

From The Guardian: Authorities have revealed the wildfire that razed homes owned by LA’s wealthiest residents was started in a homeless camp inhabited by its most downtrodden.

After the Los Angeles fire department announced on Tuesday that the Skirball fire began life as a cooking fire under a freeway about 20 miles from downtown, the homeless services community took a sharp intake of breath.

“These kind of reports are never good for us in general,” said Laurie Craft, a director at Hope of the Valley, which runs the only winter shelter in the area where the Skirball fire started.

Craft fears a backlash against the homeless community as a result of the disaster, which included the destruction of six Bel Air homes valued at $20m, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Yet assigning blame in this situation is far more complicated than it might be if the fire had been started by a careless hiker or a driver unthinkingly disposing of a lit cigarette.

“Are people going to react the same way to someone who works a job and has a car [as] to someone who’s homeless?” Craft asked. “Or is it worse in their eyes?”

There are hundreds of homeless encampments filling the nooks and crannies of Los Angeles’s elaborate freeway system, home to many of the county’s estimated 58,000 homeless people. The encampments pop up under bridges and alongside exits, ranging from two or three residents to a dozen or more.

People live in tents or jerry-rigged shelters made of tarps and branches, often with little access to sanitation or clean water. And they often set fires to cook food or keep warm in a region where nighttime temperatures often dip down into the low 50s.

The law is clear, said deputy chief Scott McLean of Cal Fire, the state fire protection agency. Any time a person lights a fire “on someone else’s property, it’s always illegal,” he said. But he added that campfires were not a particularly common source of wildfires. “It takes one spark. Even parking your car on dry grass right could be a risk.”

And owing to the harsh conditions in which homeless people live, social workers and others involved with the community are more focused on mitigating the risk than telling people not to start fires in the first place.

Victor Hinderliter, an associate director at the Los Angeles homelessness services agency, said his teams have been advising people at encampments they visit to be extra careful – and they usually are.

“The first people impacted if a fire does get out of control is the people in the surrounding encampment,” he said. “But it gets cold at night, and people have to eat. Sometimes, for survival, people have to make difficult decisions.

Hinderliter argued that the fires are merely a consequence of a much broader and more important issue. There is approximately one shelter bed available for every three people who are homeless in Los Angeles county, and a recent study found that the county would need an additional half-million affordable housing units to keep up with its growing low-income population.

“For me, this [fire] really highlights the urgency of getting people off the street and into housing,” he said. “Where people have to rely on warming fires in the middle of the night to survive, we should get them a roof over their heads, so they don’t have to make that difficult decision.”

A fire is not even always the first resort for people in encampments, said activist Mohammed Aly, who works in homeless encampments along the Santa Ana riverbed in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles.

“There’s an interest in self-preservation in keeping these fires safe,” he said. People often use other methods to keep warm or cook if they can, like gas stoves or electric generators, and display “proper etiquette”.

For those quick to judge the person who set in motion a catastrophe in order to satisfy their hunger, he urges restraint. “None of us understand what life is like in a homeless community.”


12 responses to “Los Angeles fire started in homeless encampment

  1. Pingback: Los Angeles fire started in homeless encampment — Fellowship of the Minds – NZ Conservative Coalition

  2. This is the ultimate tragedy! Although I understand that homeless people have to be somewhere . . . many of the homeless (t least in my area of Portland) are people who are drug and alcohol addicted. Unfortunately a very high proportion of these folks do not wish to enter into rehab, although rehab is available. They desire the freedom and lack of any outside controls that the “vagabond” lifestyle affords them. I absolutely think that the old time “poor farms” should be brought back. This would allow for someone that will be monitoring their behavior, rather than this willy-nilly system where people who are extremely marginal are able to pray on the segment of society that have made good choices, and have invested their time and sweat into achieving their life’s dreams. Yes, I know many will think I am a heartless soul to feel that clamping down on people who obviously pose a danger to the rest of society, but life is hard, and hard choices must be made. Oh! what a wonderful plan (sarc) to build thousands of low cost housing units, so that they can become the slums we see where other low cost people are housed. Perhaps, assigning these folks to live and work on poor farms might give them the incentive to change their life circumstances . . . . and it would keep them from damaging the viable segment of society. It should not always be those who work hard and make correct decisions who have to “pay” for those who have made disastrous decisions in their lives.

    Lest you think that I have a heart of stone; the other day when picking up a prescription at Walgreens, there was a beggar asking for change. I dug deep into my purse, and gathered up all of the change that I had dumped there and I gave it to this man..It amounted to a whole handful, I should imagine that it around $3.00. My thought behind this is . . . are we not all beggars before The Lord? It matters not what he spends the money on, it matters that I was willing to share, and that the Heavens can make note of the fact that I do not turn away all of Our Father’s children. Even though I feel this way, I still think that those who pose a problem to our society should be either institutionalized, or sent to a poor farm to earn their sustenance.

    DCG . . . this is an excellent article, although these circumstances do pose an significant problem in our society, and are very sad. God Bless you for your time and efforts.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I have ZERO problems with your idea. Help those who need it, but in a structured setting to prevent harm to themselves, others, property… and to give them a way to escape recidivism and failure. Provide a safe path out.

      I wonder how many of today’s homeless would have been better served by the mental institutions they closed back in the 70s and 80s… as the progressives argued for their right to inclusion in society at large? And how many enjoyed “early release” from jails based on similar arguments by the left? At very least, provide those who could benefit with the psychiatric treatment and meds that could help them get back to the straight and narrow.

      Liked by 3 people

      • cogitoergosmantra . . . I could not agree more with your synopsis of this horrible homeless problem. Many of these people could truly be helped by in house psychiatric help and supervision of medicines. I blame the bleeding heart liberals and their decisions that peoples should all be turned out into the streets to fend for themselves, rather than live lives of being supervised by someone who is sane and capable. I todays news, here Portland, there was a big hullabaloo about the fact that 80 homeless persons had died during the year. However these deaths among the homeless included: homicides, suicides, drownings, deaths by exposure, deaths for no apparent reason, etc. For crying out loud, when there are so many homeless, does it not stand to reason that some of them would go out of the world via death. I’m sorry, but I am not going to be quilted because homeless people died, I did not hasten their death, nor did I make decisions that proved to be not in their best interest. This is just another ploy by our politicians that we should all pony up the monies so that anyone who is not wanting to work 9 to 5 or whatever can have a roof over their head at the expense of those who do work.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Not everyone believes the lies of the Deep State!

    The fires compare in many ways like the laser fires in Santa Rosa.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Cali fires exhibit some bizarre characteristics – houses that appear almost completely vaporized to the foundation while surrounding trees are untouched; melting steel and scorched vehicles similar to that of vehicles around Ground Zero on 911; and flashes of blue laser lights coinciding with explosive conflagarations as captred by numerous cell phone videos.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Tom Jones . . . thank you for contributing this information. It seems unbelievable. I do not understand how there can possibly be this kind of destruction . . . yet trees and greenery remain untouched. There is little doubt from the other things we have seen that there are those among us who would use any means to bring about whatever they wish to achieve up to and including taking lives.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Re: T.J. & A.L – – yet surounding trees & greenery remain untouched..?? = = Sounds like an “inside” job doesn’t it..?? There’s an old saying: = “If you cannot sell your property to anyone else, = sell it to the Fire Insurance Company..”

    Liked by 1 person

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