Santa Paula Times
SPFD: Vegetation fire at homeless encampment spreads to cell tower
Published:  November 28, 2014

Santa Paula Fire personnel was dispatched Monday to yet another fire at a homeless encampment, this time in the railroad corridor area near 12th Street that spread to a cell phone tower.

According to SPFD PIO Andy VanSciver, the incident was reported November 24 at 12:14 p.m. when a call came in that a vegetation fire was burning next to the cell tower located in the 200 block of 12th Street.

“Both Engine 81 and Engine 181 were dispatched to the scene,” and the fire was quickly knocked down.

The fire, noted VanSciver, “started at a homeless camp next to the cell phone tower and extended into electrical equipment,” and “The power was secured to the cell phone tower.”

Fire units were on scene for approximately 45 minutes; the fire did not damage an onsite outbuilding.

VanSciver noted, “E181 is our reserve engine currently working out of Station 82,” to temporarily replace the engine damaged and exposed to toxins in the November 18 chemical explosion and the secondary explosion and fire that occurred hours later. It is not known when - or even if - the engine will be returned to duty.

Monday’s incident was just the latest in a series of homeless encampment fires that have occurred in the area of the city; there have been several in the Santa Paula Creek area and one in September behind an industrial outbuilding on the east side of the city that crept into the structure.

Such incidents result from warming or cooking fires, but others are suspected to be deliberately set during “turf wars” over camping locations.