There have already been more fires this year than in 2021, Portland Fire and Rescue said.
Dangerous tent and homeless camp fires have been increasing year over year in Portland and are now occurring at a rate of more than one a day.
According to Portland Fire and Rescue, so far in 2022 the department said there have already been 444 fires related to tents or homeless camps. That compares to 443 in 2021, PF&R told KOIN 6 News.
Firefighters said it was difficult to balance public safety when it came to fires at homeless camps. Although there are laws against public burning, there are a few exceptions when temperatures start to drop.
PF&R Lt. Laurent Picard said the fire bureau constantly balances enforcing illegal fires in the city with the danger of homeless people getting sick or dying in cold weather.
Picard said they were using a multi-pronged strategy, including increasing shelter space and capacity in severe weather. He noted that crews are more lenient about enforcing illegal fires in camps in very cold weather, as long as they are 25 feet from structures and do not endanger tents or other campers.
However, when it comes to wildfire season, Picard said crews are putting out all fires at campsites.
In order to protect campers and adjacent properties from wildfires, City Council approved PF&R protocols which aim to prevent homeless community members from camping in large wooded areas of the city during fire season. of forest.
Fire officials are urging people to call the non-emergency line to report small fires at sites that do not appear dangerous and if a fire appears to be out of control, call 911.
KOIN 6 News is a press partner of Pamlin Media Group.
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