Incidents of fires erupting in homeless encampments in the Los Angeles area have risen sharply, creating a growing fire danger that puts homes, dry hillsides and entire neighborhoods at risk.
According to Los Angeles Fire Department data analyzed by the NBC4 I-Team, 799 fires were linked to homeless encampments in 2017, including tents and empty buildings; that’s an average of more than two fires a day. Five years earlier, In 2013, the number of such fires was just 104.
"Frequently it’s a cooking fire or a warming fire that we respond to, whether that’s in a brush area or in an urban area," said LA Fire Department spokesman Captain Erik Scott.
I-Team cameras documented dozens of grills and outdoor propane stoves being used at encampments across the Los Angeles area. According to the LA Downtown Business Improvement District, 31 tent fires broke out in the Skid Row area alone in 2017, some igniting adjacent buildings.