One of the wildfires that have ravaged Southern California now has a cause. The blaze that swept through the hills of Bel-Air and destroyed six homes and damaged a dozen others was started by a fire in a homeless camp in a ravine.
Fire officials say it was not set on purpose. However, they also haven’t been able to locate those who may have started the fire since much of the camp was also destroyed. The fire is now under control.
Nickie Miner — the vice president of the Bel-Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council — said the fire is not unexpected. People living in the area have been worried for years that someone in the homeless camps would cause a fire. Agencies charged with taking care of the homeless did very little. She criticized the push to educate them about fire risks but willingness to do little else.
“We knew it was only going to be a matter of time before something horrible happened,” Miner said.
Fire officials around the state regularly note that fires in Southern California are normally human caused. They begin with camp fires, cigarette butts, farm equipment and car crashes.
Los Angeles County officials say the homeless population count has risen 23% to close to 58,000. In the same time period, Bel-Air and Brentwood saw its population rise to just 18% to 5,511.
Meanwhile, as part of its fire prevention efforts, the California Public Utilities Commission is looking at new rules to have tree branches trimmed back even farther from power lines. The construction of new lines will also see lines spaced farther apart. Repairs will also have to be made in high risk areas first before going to work on low risk areas.
Source links: Los Angeles Times, Insurance Journal