N. Portland resident voices concern about homeless camp fires close to her home
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - People in north Portland living right near the Rosa Parks Way exit off Interstate 5 are worried about the homeless, and also their own lives, following a fire at a homeless camp Monday night.
“I looked out the second-story window and saw flames, and I just kept hearing boom, boom, boom,” said Mary.
Mary was just one of the neighbors who called 911 at about midnight Monday. Portland Fire & Rescue responded and put out the flames. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
Roughly 2,000 homeless camp fires have occurred over the last year, killing at least two people living in tents and severely injuring others.
“I feel bad for homeless people, but I’m also scared, you know,” Mary told FOX 12.
She said she feels it’s just a matter of time before one of the camp fires kills another person who is houseless. There is a wall that separates Mary’s neighborhood from the camp, but she said the wall has caught fire before during previous tent fires, and she fears flying embers could set her trees and house on fire.
“I don’t feel safe in my home, I’m scared,” she said. “I feel like my house could go up in flames. I don’t know, it’s like nobody cares.”
The Oregon Department of Transportation said the land is theirs, but it’s up to the city to remove the camps first before they clean up the area. The city has said it tries to prioritize these sweeps based on safety concerns.
“Nobody does anything. It’s like it’s not on our doorstep,” said Mary.
Mary said the homeless should not be out in the cold. That they should be somewhere warm, safe, and cared for. She said the city, the county, all agencies should not allow them to remain outside for their own safety and the safety of others.
“Our lives are important too. Their lives are important, but so are ours,” she said.
Freezing temperatures are expected again Tuesday night. During one harsh cold spell last winter, Portland Fire & Rescue told FOX 12 they responded to 10 camp and tent fires a day.
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