54% of Fires Set in Los Angeles Are in Homeless Encampments, HUD Reports Population 66,000+

A homeless man pushes his belongings at a homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake where social activists, including a coalition of homeless-serving organizations, homeless residents and supporters rally at the start of a 24-hour vigil to block a planned shutdown of a homeless encampment at Echo Lake Park in Los …
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

As the homeless population continues to surge in Los Angeles County, this demographic now accounts for 54 percent of fires responded to in the first quarter of 2021.

According to a report from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued in March, 66,436 homeless people live in the county — a 13 percent increase over pre-pandemic numbers.

Fox News in Los Angeles reported on the escalation of fires in homeless encampments which are made up of clusters of tents across the county:

At least seven homeless people died in fires in 2020. Fires ignited near businesses have also caused tens of millions of dollars in damage, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Fire officials hope to educate the public on safe cooking to avoid fires. The department recently launched a pilot program to station a rapid response team in Los Angeles’ coastal Venice neighborhood.

Armando Hogan, the deputy chief for operations of the LAFD’s West Bureau, questioned the root cause for the growing number of fires.

”Is it a simple matter of these folks just need a place to go and eat? Is it a bigger matter of individuals having problems within each other in the encampments? Is it just a warming issue?” Hogan said.

“If I can educate them a little bit more on maybe not cooking inside the tent,” Hogan said. “We don’t want to encourage everybody just having open cooking there on the sidewalk, but we’re trying to look at alternatives.”

Fox News reported that some fires are set on purpose, including one in a video posted on social media that shows someone throwing something into a tent before it is engulfed in flames.

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