Dangerous homeless warming fire discovered in underground storm - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Dangerous homeless warming fire discovered in underground storm drain

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Colorado Springs firefighters found what they believe is a homeless camp in the storm drain system at northbound I-25 and W. Bijou St. after finding smoke coming from an open manhole before 8 a.m. Thursday.

Firefighters said because the fire was underground in a confined space, it was more dangerous and required the Hazmat team and heavy rescue crews to go underground and test the air quality.

"Today it was 90 parts per million of CO which is not sustainable for human life," said Colorado Springs Fire Captain Brian Vaughan.

Crews spent hours searching underground for any people who may have been trapped. They used a rope and pulley system in their search, combing over 1,200 feet of underground drainage pipes.

They didn't find anyone in the drains, but they did find more hazards.

 "A lot of debris, propane tanks, we have curtains hanging across the arterial veins that go east and west and we also located shopping carts, hypodermic needles," Vaughan said.

Because of the dangers posed from flooding and noxious fumes the City of Colorado Springs is looking at ways they can discourage anyone from going into the drains.

"Find the appropriate measure to deter access while still allowing the storm water to freely flow through the system is the engineering challenge for us," said storm water engineer Brain Kelley.

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