Turlock encampment explosion rattles already frustrated neighborhood

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TURLOCK, Calif. (KTXL) – Neighbors living in Turlock’s gated Festival community said an explosion early Thursday morning is just the latest problem stemming from a homeless encampment nearby.

“We’re done. We’re all done. We’ve been trying for so many months,” neighbor Adrian Martinez said. “It started off small but if you go on the other side, it has expanded.”

Neighbors said the explosion and subsequent fire were just the latest problems in a string of issues ranging from litter to graffiti to other fires from a growing encampment on North Golden State Boulevard, just beyond one of the community’s walls.

"We hear them fighting and screaming and cussing. We’re finding their things down here or fires," Martinez said.

Families said they’ve had these issues for about nine months.

“This is becoming a really big problem, a really huge problem,” neighborhood watch captain Cheryl Cruz said.

Cruz said she and neighbors have called the Turlock Police Department, city leaders and the Union Pacific Railroad company about the encampment. The Turlock Fire Department said it’s put out fires at the encampment before and no injuries were reported from Thursday’s fire.

“Union Pacific said there’s about a hundred phone calls a day that come in,” Cruz said. “They can’t do anything about it.”

A spokesman with Union Pacific confirmed they own the land and told FOX40 they try to protect their property from unlawful encampments:

We are aware of the homeless encampment in Turlock and will be working with the local jurisdiction on identifying innovative solutions to help mitigate concerns.

“Can we find an abandoned hotel or motel and just fix it for them to live in? But, I don’t know how long that’s gonna last,” Martinez said.

With the encampment so close to the community’s playground, near homes, families and kids, neighbors said they are at their wits’ end.

“I felt like I needed to get involved and change some things and this is one I can’t change because I have my hands tied,” Cruz said.

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