Blazes That Begin in Homeless Camps Now Account for Nearly Half the Fires in One Oregon City

  • Source: Willamette Week
  • Published: 11/02/2022 12:00 AM

Just over a month ago, Chris Husbands’ backyard in North Portland was on fire. The 32-year-old builder of custom vans was in Florida on Sept. 17 when a blaze broke out in a homeless camp behind his house in the Portsmouth neighborhood. It tore through dry blackberry bushes, climbed his wooden gate, and lit his bamboo plants up like a torch. As the inferno spread, it engulfed a 75-foot pine tree nearby, sending panic through his quiet cul-de-sac. Firefighters rushed to the scene near North Juneau and Attu streets and put out the flames—just yards from Husbands’ modest maroon bungalow. He learned about it in a text from a neighbor. As he vacationed with his wife, Haley, and year-old son, a ball of stress rose in his chest. “I don’t give a shit about material things—that’s what insurance is for,” Husbands says. “But I have a kid now and a wife, and I worry about their safety.”


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