Sacramento firefighters look to city leaders for help in face of encampment fires

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — An early morning fire burned down two campers in a transient area in South Sacramento.

What was called in as a 2 a.m. tree fire in the industrial block of South Watt Avenue and Elder Creek Road turned into a bigger situation for the Sacramento Fire Department.

“The first arriving engine company found a large amount of vegetation that was on fire that already spread to what is described as camper trailers,” said Sacramento Fire Capt. Keith Wade. 

According to witnesses, the campers were part of a homeless encampment located in a dry field.  

“Their initial concern was people living in those campers and quickly trying to knock down the fire, get it contained because it started to spread,” Capt. Wade said. 

Aside from the campers, a semitractor-trailer was also burned in the process. 

While there were no injuries and the damage to nearby businesses was minimal, Wade said these types of fires in transient areas are becoming far too common for the dry season.

“It is a concern for the fire department as we move into these areas,” he told FOX40. “A lot of times they’re hard to access for us and a lot of the times there are no water supplies out there. They present a challenge.”

A representative with the local fire department union said he worries more homeless encampments will add fuel to the fire and is asking city council members for better oversight.

“The reality is that they’re not just putting themselves at risk, they’re putting the rest of the camp at risk, they’re putting the community at risk,” said a spokesperson for the Sacramento Area Firefighters Local 522. “They’re tying up an incredible amount of resources, which we don’t mind, but we need more fire resources.”

However, he said there is a solution. 

“These folks need to be redirected to an area where the fire hazard is significantly reduced because people will eventually die,” the spokesperson said.

“These are real problems and they’re not going away anytime soon,” he continued.

FOX40 did reach out to several members of city council regarding the union’s concerns but did not hear back from them Thursday.

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