Hours after homeless outreach operation fire breaks out at homeless camp

Posted at 10:57 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 00:57:48-04

On Wednesday morning, the Pueblo Police Department and several other agencies worked along Fountain Creek to conduct yet another homeless outreach operation. 

The goal was to not only inform campers that they would be cited if they did not vacate the private property, but to also warn them of flooding potential, environmental concerns, and fire dangers. 

Speaking to one homeless camper, Fire Chief Bryan Ware of the Beulah Fire Department said, "How you doing? I see some of your neighbors have moved on. What’s going on with you?"

His conversation and others that happened on Wednesday were more than just a friendly nudge. Homeless camps are a growing problem in Pueblo that need decisive action to produce results. 

Fire Chief Ware told one camper that "eventually officers are going to give you a citation and it’s going to end up resulting in legal matters for you, but right now you are on private property unfortunately."

It’s not the only thing officers are worried about. 

Sergeant Franklyn Ortega of the Pueblo Police Department said, "We’re contacting people along the Fountain Creek letting them know about the fire danger, the flood danger."

Pueblo Fire Department Public Information Officer Eric Duran said, "We believe that the fire started in one of the homeless camps in this area and it spread out from there, seems to be where it’s burned most at this point."

It’s the very reason why law enforcement is cracking down on these camps. As the public has seen, a camp fire or a discarded cigarette can blow up in these warm, dry, and windy conditions. The endless piles of trash that line homeless camps as well as vegetation along the creek are also major fuel sources. 

Duran said, "Unfortunately, a fire like today, the fuels are just there. They’re ready to burn. It’s been so dry and the fire just took advantage of the conditions that we have."

The Pueblo Fire Department says Fountain Creek is one of Pueblo’s most problematic areas when it comes to fires. Duran says a coalition has been formed and is now working on how to resolve the issue.