Homeless Encampment Fires Ignited By Homeless, Officials Said

An Aug. 11 photo of debris that had been torched at a Fresno homeless encampment.

Two recent fires at homeless encampments in southeast and downtown Fresno were caused by people who lived in those encampments, fire officials said on Friday.

"Due to the increase of illegal structures that have been erected over the last two years, we are experiencing an increase in the number of fires that are occurring in these encampments which rapidly spread through tents and shanties," Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Henry said. "These conditions, combined with other activities that are occurring within these encampments, have created an increasingly dangerous environment that endangers life and property."

An Aug. 7 fire at E Street and Santa Clara involving multiple tents and debris was started by a homeless person who used a lighter to ignite some combustible items after being upset with a shelter occupant, fire department officials said.

An Aug. 12 fire on F Street was started by a homeless person burning items as part of illegal copper wire stripping.

Fire investigators have not yet determined the cause of an Aug. 11 fire that burned approximately 250 feet of homeless encampment shelters. Multiple animals also were burned in the fire.

City officials will begin to clear a number of homeless encampments later this month.

Clearing of the encampment at Santa Clara and F, E and G streets near the Poverello House will begin on Monday, Aug. 26. The de-encampment effort will continue at Los Angeles and E on Tuesday, Sept. 3, and move to the H Street/Santa Clara area on Monday, Sept. 9.