NewsCovering Colorado


Officers encounter illegal campsite in fire-prone neighborhood

Officer Dustin Reyes.jpeg
Posted at 6:16 PM, Apr 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-15 08:43:29-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Officer Dustin Reyes visits many campsites while on the job with the Colorado Springs Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team.

However, the campsite he located Friday was very well hidden. It was situated at least 20 feet up a steep hillside in the Pinecliff neighborhood, sheltered by pine trees and a rock cliff.

“It may not look like it to people or certain individuals, but we really want them to just get to a stable place in life,” Reyes said.

Two people were camping there. A man, a woman, and a dog. The land is private property and the campers were trespassing.

Reyes explained the greater risk to public safety was the fire danger.

“In this dry climate right now, it just takes a little ember from the fire on the grass to get out of control,” Reyes said.

A stone fire pit was located near the campsite. But Reyes suspects the campers were keeping warm or heating food with the 20 lbs propane gas tank found among their belongings.

"They may not be starting a traditional fire around a pit with firewood and kindling, but they're probably using a propane-based flame, whether it's a burner or a propane heater."

The Pinecliff neighborhood is a short distance northwest of I-25 and Garden of the Gods Road. It's a high-risk fire area. The Colorado Springs Fire Department regularly holds training exercises nearby.

"Our job is to really look out for the safety of the entire community," said Ira Cronin, Public Information Manager with the CSPD.

He said officers with the Homeless Outreach Team routinely offer to bring the people they meet who are experiencing homelessness to the city's emergency shelters. The offer is frequently declined.

"We want to make sure that those people know that there are resources available here in the City of Colorado Springs to help them," Cronin said.

Camping is illegal in the City of Colorado Springs on both public and private land. The two campers in the Pinecliff neighborhood were let go with a warning. If they return to the area, they can be ticketed for trespassing.


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