Downtown tent fire one of many in recent months
A tent pitched outside of the Portland Korean Church in downtown Portland went up in flames on the night of Wednesday, June 9.
The fire occurred at Southwest 10th Avenue and Clay Street. The flames quickly climbed up an adjacent tree. But Portland Fire & Rescue quickly responded and doused the fire.
Residents in the area told KOIN 6 News they've noticed an increase in the number of tent fires in recent months. The fire bureau said they responded to three such fires in March, 64 in April, and 45 in May.
"It happens more and more lately. I've seen seven or eight of them in the last six months; this one was just last night and I could see it from my balcony," said local resident Tom. "They have to do something because it gets worse and worse."
A woman who has experienced homelessness and asked to not be named said the fires are the result of a failure on the city's part to house and care for those living on the streets.
"There's people with grills out here and usually even in the winter there's people with small campfires because they need to keep warm and they need to eat — there's a reason why fires happen," she said.
Another fire was extinguished a few weeks ago near Southwest 10th and Columbia — just steps from where the tent caught fire Wednesday. Officials said someone had broken into the light pole and used jumper cables to try to steal power.
"It's not unusual for our crews to respond to houseless camps. We do it several times a day and there are often fires in the camps," said fire bureau spokesperson Rob Garrison. "But again, when you are living in a tent with the different heating sources and when everything you live in is flammable, the risk goes up."
The City of Portland says you can call 311 to report a camp for cleanup or use the One Point of Contact Campsite Reporting System.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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