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Santa Rosa focuses on fire threat from homeless camps

in News
Kent Porter / The Press Democrat
Kent Porter / The Press Democrat

The afternoon fire in a grassy field along Stony Point Road in the July heat had the potential to cause massive destruction. Flames destroyed a vacant building on the property, but more alarmingly, winds pushed flames toward a row of homes on Muledeer Lane.

It started in a homeless encampment. The fire burned 3.4 acres and a few backyard fences before firefighters doused it.

Three months earlier, an early morning blaze April 20, also started by a homeless person, destroyed a boarded-up 16,000-square-foot building next to St. Eugene’s Catholic Church. Damage was estimated at $400,000.

Fears of another fire prompted Santa Rosa officials to clear homeless campers out of the western half of Fremont Park last month. More than 100 people were camping in the 1.7-acre park off Fourth Street, some using open flames for cooking or warming. The conditions, fire officials worried, could spark a blaze and spread throughout the camp, ignite redwood trees in the western section of the park and leap to adjacent businesses and homes.

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