By Velena Jones

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento officials say a growing number of homeless camps set on critical infrastructure around the city are putting the public at risk.

Sacramento Fire says crews responded to the scene on Power Inn Road, just north of Fruitridge Road, in early November to investigate a report of smoke coming from a manhole cover. At the scene, firefighters discovered that the smoke was coming from a large underground drainage pipe.

READ MORE: Underground Pipe Catches Fire In Sacramento; Evidence Found That People Were Living Inside

“You start a fire in any type of area that is critical infrastructure, you are running a risk of impacting the community as a whole and you are creating a life safety problem,” said Sacramento Fire Captain Keith Wade.

This time no-one was injured, however, Wade fears next time it could be much worse.

“A larger-scale fire that could maybe impact the power grid,” he explained. “We are trying to keep people away from these areas, not living near them because if they have these accidental fires or any fires that could take these things and take them offline. There are huge repercussions to the community as a whole.”

It’s a growing issue with fires damaging critical infrastructures including an electrical station, flames coming close to power lines and burning close to other vital structures.

“When the homeless encampments make incursions into this critical infrastructure, our city could really be brought to its knees,” said Vice Mayor Jeff Harris.

The city council considered an ordinance earlier this year banning tents and camps from sites like levees, bridges, power sources and train tracks. The idea was postponed after council got pushback from homeless advocates while homeowners stressed its importance.

READ ALSO: How Will The City Enforce The Homeless Levee Ban?

“This is critical to the safety and health and welfare of all of the citizens,” said Natomas homeowner, Karen Conrod.

It’s a problem that could even cause flooding in some areas.

“There are hundreds, hundreds of inclusions into these levees,” explained Harris. “We are talking about an imminent catastrophic levee breech.”

The issue is the city still hasn’t been able to address these dangers.

“Because of COVID and because of the rules where we couldn’t move the homeless people,” Harris said. “The camps have become entrenched, what that means is they have grown in size, it’s almost like squatting. Some people feel they have squatter rights at this point.”

With a growing homeless population, it’s a problem Harris said can’t be ignored.

“It’s just not a good way for society to function,” he said.

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Velena Jones

Comments (5)
  1. Truth says:

    KEEP VOTING DEM, RIGHT?

  2. corporal snark says:

    we can’t afford to institutionalize our mentally ill homeless because all of our money goes to our defined-benefit government pension shortfall . after we pay our pensions, there’s no money left for our mentally-ill vagrants.

  3. C.S. says:

    Truth, can you explain how voting for another party would help to solve the homeless problem? We are under a Republican administration right now, and the problem is bad. What will political parties besides Democrats bring to the table to solve this issue? What in your opinion should be done?

  4. fiddlestix says:

    Keep feeding the pigeons and they stay and you get more pigeons

  5. phil rogers says:

    So, Reagan evicting all the mentally ill from institutions into the streets to save taxes was NOT such a great idea? Funny how these horrible, greed-driven actions always bite us in the butt AFTER the evil villain is long gone. So it’s like it never happened….

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