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Homeless crisis brings another problem to San Francisco: Their camps keep catching on fire


Daily Caller News Foundation

San Francisco is facing a new problem as the number of fires tied to homeless encampments has doubled in the last four years since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The San Francisco Standard.

The city has been struggling with a homelessness crisis with homeless camps totaling 523 in September 2023, the highest its been since the pandemic in October 2020. In addition, the number of fires linked to homeless individuals shot up from 400 in 2019 to 800 last year, resulting in millions of dollars in damages, according to The Standard.

The fires were often started by city residents burning trash or cooking food, while others appeared to be intentional, according to reports obtained by The Standard. The fires resulted in $2.5 million in damages from 2019 to 2023 and multiple injuries.

Many people were injured by the fires and one 40-year-old woman and mother of three, who had recently been evicted, died in 2022 under an overpass after the homeless encampment she was in caught fire that left three others in critical condition, according to KQED, a local media outlet. The fires spiked in 2020 to nearly 700 and then dropped back down to around 600 in 2021 before spiking to over 800 the following year, according to The Standard.

Business owners in the city’s “Little Saigon” neighborhood have expressed fears that the growing homelessness problem would increase safety risks and said the area is “really bad.”

The city’s fire department claimed part of the growth is because they are better at tracking the fires now, but Darius Luttropp, deputy chief of operations for the department, admitted that there has “definitely been a substantial increase” in homeless fires and acknowledged resident’s frustrations about the problem, according to a statement given to The Standard. “It’s that frustration with being unable to provide a lasting remedy,” Luttropp said.

Mayor London Breed placed the city under a state of emergency in 2021, saying that “bullshit” left-wing policies like defunding police had made the situation worse. A district judge, however, halted the city from clearing out homeless camps in 2022 without providing alternative shelter, but the Supreme Court agreed in January to take up a case regarding whether or not homeless camps have a constitutional right to public property.

The city cleared a significant amount of homeless camps in November, however, ahead of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, while also trying to stay within the bounds of the district court’s orders against mass removal of homeless populations.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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