Homeless encampments popping up in Oakland have triggered healthy and safety concerns.
The Oakland Fire Department responded to a fire Monday morning at a homeless encampment at West Grand Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way near Interstate 980 in West Oakland. The blaze followed a Sunday fire just a few blocks away at another homeless encampment at Fifth and Market streets.
Since January, firefighters said they have responded to at least 60 similar fires in Oakland.
"I do know a majority of them are accidental in nature," said Melinda Drayton with the Oakland Fire Department. "Whether or not propane candles or open flame, the majority are accidental."
City officials said they are dealing with a crisis situation. The number of homeless camps in Oakland has grown 30 percent in the past two years. City officials in response has assembled a special encampment management team.
"Encampments are not safe places to live on any number of levels," Oakland Assistant City Administrator Joe Devries said.
Those who live and work next to the camps said it has become a serious health and safety hazard. They add the city is not doing enough.
"Do your job and take care of us. You're here to govern," business owner Ray Mazur said. "These people are breaking the law."