Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

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Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta
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By edhat staff

Santa Barbara County Firefighters responded to a large homeless encampment fire burning along Highway 101 in Goleta on Monday evening.

Fire crews arrived around 11:30 p.m. on the southbound lanes of Highway 101 between Los Carneros and Fairview exits. Initially, crews thought the incident was a structure fire but when the first engine company arrived they learned it was a "large homeless encampment fire" burning between Highway 101 and the railroad tracks, said Fire Captain Daniel Bertucelli.

Crews extinguished the fire and mopped up hot spots. 

California Highway Patrol monitored traffic in the area. There were no reported injuries or damaged structures. 

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a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 06:49 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

I disagree. Being homeless is not a crime. I get that. But being a squatter on Caltrans or Union Pacific property IS a crime. Trespassing, if nothing else. Panhandling on the freeway on/off ramps is also some kind of infraction. If an encampment burns down, all is lost for these people. The agencies will come in tomorrow and bulldoze the place, and all belongings that didn't burn will be cleared out. I bet the residents and the business owners in this area are breathing a sigh of relief tonight. One less threat to our community.

LCP112233 Nov 05, 2019 03:03 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

Winter. No kidding! Squatting on private property is a crime. Starting a fire is a crime. If they look a little further they will uncover loads of stolen property, illegal drugs and Lord knows what else.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 02:41 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

WINTER - being homeless is not a crime. They can't just arrest people who live in an encampment. They investigate it, I'm sure, but it is probably pretty hard to pinpoint who started the fire.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 01:35 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

Cal Trans and The Railroad need to be held liable for any damages and the cost of cleaning this up. Since the government cannot force people into shelters or stop them from sleeping in public places, Let them live in the Courthouse Sunken Garden or perhaps the Mission Rose garden? Butterfly Beach? Coast Village Rd? They can have warming and cooking fires in those public places...

yacht rocked Nov 05, 2019 06:43 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

How about the new Randall Rd debris basin in Montecito? (See Noozhawk) Just make sure there's a good notification system so folks can pack up their stuff before a rainstorm. But otherwise it's a nice camping spot adjacent to San Ysidro creek, with $20 million worth of county-owned tranquility. Install some toilets, a simple outdoor shower, and a few firepits, and it will be good to go.

SBLetsGetAlong Nov 05, 2019 01:03 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

The ACLU upheld an 8th Amendment right through the Supreme Court. You cannot for people off public land, unless you have a bed for them. If there are not enough beds for the PIT count a municipality cannot move the people. Housing first has been known for four decades. It takes time and people to approach and talk and learn and encourage them to move to a bed, this is better if they choose to go someplace safe. However, public safety trumps that, no pun intended. If they presentation danger to themselves and society and cannot take of themselves, they can be moved to an available bed. Housing first. In So Cal wildfires are a serious public threat and there have been an average of one fire per week. A man died in the Goleta Creek bed about 6 weeks trying to cook himself dinner on a camping stove. The Milpas fire in August, the Bath St fire 6 weeks ago and the Fairview fire last night are evidence of the extreme danger to people and structures. The govt has a DUTY to protect the people and close down these camps regardless of whether 5he are trespassing or on public land. The govt is aware of this extreme danger. If someone looses their life or their home because of a “transient encampment” Fire the govt will be sued for negligence. There are laws in place, no drug using , no sitting behind the wheel of a parked car while under the influence, dogs need to be registered with the City, no urinating in public, no public indecency, etc... enforce the laws. If I stopped in 5he middle of the road and defecated I’d get a ticket. If I decided to sleep it off behind the wheel of my car I’d get picked up. Not enforcing the laws is discrimination. When homeless are picked up they need to be assessed for mental illness and if they have warrants, etc... And protect neighborhoods. Renters and homeowners have rights to quiet use and enjoyment of their property. They chose to live in a neighborhood for a reason of community, etc... The govt tells you what you can and cannot do to your property, but if you live in a car you do whatever you want. How is that fair to tax payers? There are ordinances that outlaws vehicular "dwelling" in most parts of the city. Between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., a person is not allowed to "dwell" inside a vehicle parked in a residential area; nor are they allowed to ever "dwell" inside a vehicle parked within 500 feet of a park, licensed school, pre-school, or daycare facility. This is important so you child doesn’t accidentally step or fall on a needle while p,suing in front of their house or a neighborhood park. Explain to a 5 yr old, don’t go to the park, watch out for strange people, feces, needles, bottles and other drug paraphernalia and trash. How is that fair to children? The goal is to move people to beds, housing first, ensure safety from fires and injuries in parks, housing first. Housing does not need to be $300,000 condos in prime real estate. It is not a right to live wherever you want. Otherwise we’d all live on the beach. You need to live where you can afford to live. If you’re provided free housing, you get free housing. It’s not going to be a Montecito beach house or down town loft, it’s goun* to be a bed with facilities and care to get you back on your feet. I don’t understand how people think it’s humane to step over and ignore people who are in dire need. I don’t understand how it’s humane or safe to allow these camp fires to start in So Cal. I don’t understand why the biggest economy in the US still allows people to live like this. Do you?

TWOSCOOPS Nov 05, 2019 12:25 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

Roger, I agree. COASTWATCH, I've been a liberal, and voted that way, for five decades. I know that building housing for drug addicts is a wrong step. Enforce the laws, as Roger says. That's what I believe, as a liberal. The only way to save addicts' lives is to make them stop using drugs. Not by providing services to allow them to continue using drugs. Or making camps, where not only they can continue using drugs, but can contract various third world illnesses. "Last October, health officials warned the public about a typhus outbreak after several people in downtown L.A. contracted the disease. Typhus spreads when fleas become infected with bacteria known as Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia felis. May 29, 2019."

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 09:41 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

The cities and states that are successfully addressing this issue do it with “housing first”. Google it. House people first, then help them get off drugs and alcohol, get on mental health medication (where needed) and get a job. Plus it saves, on average, $18,000 per person per year once they have a home.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 12:21 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

that property is not public property. It is leased by Union Pacific (I believe) and it is part of an easement. THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTAINING THE PROPERTY and should be pressured to clear the brush these people are living in and ultimately setting on fire.

Chip of SB Nov 05, 2019 12:18 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

The so-called "homeless" problem and the fire danger in our area will continue to get worse for the foreseeable future. Until we have a fundamental change in our politics at the state and local level, this is going to be a fact of life. However, there are steps we can all take to help protect ourselves and our families. First, I would strongly suggest educating your children. Make sure they know what used needles look like, and make sure they know to avoid them and to alert an adult when they find them. Also, make sure your children know to avoid homeless encampments. The encampments contain hidden dangers such as used needles, toxic waste, and communicable diseases. Finally, make sure your children know to stay away from drug addicts since they can be unstable and dangerous. It is also important to keep an eye on your neighborhood. Identify overgrown areas and keep a lookout for drug addicts. It may be helpful to collaborate with your neighbors on this. If you find any overgrown areas on private property, contact the owner and have the land cleared if possible. Unfortunately, if an overgrown area is on public land the government will ensure nothing is done to mitigate the hazard. The last line of defense is protecting your property. When an overgrown area in your neighborhood catches fire, the primary threat to your property is likely to be embers, or firebrands, carried by the wind. Take a long walk around the perimeter of your house and check for any flammable items. If you allow dry leaves or other flammable material to accumulate near your home, these materials are likely to be ignited by embers and will in turn ignite your home. Imagine a shower of windblown embers falling around your property. You need to do whatever it takes to ensure that nothing will catch fire when this occurs and that no embers can blow into your home through attic vents or any other openings. I would highly recommend doing some research on the ember/firebrand hazard and taking the time to make sure your home and property is appropriately prepared. In addition, make sure your insurance is up to date. The cost to rebuild can be extremely high due to our building codes and permitting process. Make sure your policy will pay the actual cost to rebuild your home and provide temporary housing until your home can be rebuilt. The process could take years and the total cost is likely to exceed $1 million in this area. Finally, I would encourage defensive landscaping. Agaves and cactus with aggressive thorns are a good choice. These plants grow quickly, are easily propagated, and do not require any water once established. In addition, they are not a fire hazard. Defensive landscaping can be an effective way to keep drug addicts from entering your property, and it is much more aesthetically pleasing than razor wire and other defensive measures. You might also consider engaging in some "guerilla landscaping" and planting cactus and agave in strategic locations on public land.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 06:28 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

All these encampment sites should be planted with Ribes californicum (Native gooseberry) wherever there is partial shade. The gooseberry bushes grow to about 6' in height and have THE NASTIEST thorns. Birds and butterflies love these plants. For full sun I recommend Spinosissima altaica (White rose shrub), which has thorns that are so vicious, I swear they reach out to grab you. Both these species are fire resistant.

ZeroHawk Nov 05, 2019 12:48 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

no, the City and County officials can't. it's owned by caltrans, or leased to them. same with anything along the train tracks. the railroad is responsible. i have to hike past several bridge trolls to go fishing in summerland. the sheriff dept can assist, but they can't enforce on that property. lame.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 11:49 AM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

There are laws against using drugs and alcohol in public spaces. Don't reward this by giving them housing. Their families can't cope with them anymore, obviously. That's the thing about drug addiction, no matter how committed you are to helping, the drug addicts always take it further and rob you of your ability to be generous. Because, they always want more. Eventually, it's more than is reasonable or safe for the family, neighborhood, then city, then county, then state. We've reached that in S.B., Goleta. Now...simply enforce the laws we already have. No handouts to make it easy for them...unless __you__ are gaining $$$ from their drug purchases, and the loop of drug sales. How many in S.B. are part of the financial rewards program, directly or indirectly...including doctors.

SantaBarbaraObserver Nov 05, 2019 11:41 AM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

These fires and their sources are becoming a significant problem. The high fire risks and the eminent threat to the public's safety, should supersede any and all civil liberty issues that keep these encampments from being removed by authorities. They need to be removed ASAP. Everywhere, along every rail line, under every overpass and in and around every on/off ramp and every creek bed. The fire threat is real, the issues and causes obvious and the remedy easy. Or are we going to wait until 1000's of homes are destroyed and countless people are dead and the lawyers and lawmakers come crawling forth to blame each other? This is a real threat to the public's safety and needs to be treated as such. Find and remove every single encampment and clear them and start filing lawsuits against the property owners. Southern Pacific, Caltrans and the county of SB need to be put on notice and act immediately to protect the public from fire risks related to the use of their property.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 11:48 AM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

SBOBSERVER - yes, the encampments must be removed at all costs, there's plenty of precedent for that. But, these camps that keep getting suggested are something different altogether.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 11:26 AM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

This time they came close to burning down structures. Had that happened, those businesses (or residents) would have to go through their own insurance as these vagrants don't have anything to recover against. That means, increased premiums through no fault of their own. Not only are these people a physical and environmental menace now a financial one too. Watch carriers start to increase rates b/c of this possibility in the future. Something needs to be done NOW.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 10:33 AM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

I agree with temporary shelter idea, but it must be away from the city, having them in town will just create vagrants loitering around our neighborhoods all day. Once we create the temporary shelter, they must go there or go to jail. We cannot allow people to live on the streets. This wouldn't be unconstitutional because these vagrants are ruining the quality of life for those of us who pay money to live here, which is our constitutional right. As well as the argument that they cannot be removed if they have no where to go. You do not get to live wherever you want just because you want to. That is unfair to the people who work here and have to commute from Ventura, Lompoc or further every day.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 11:10 AM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

10:33 - Not sure you really understand the Constitution. Nothing says we have a right to live in a city free of homeless people. Also, since you're so concerned about constitutional rights, how do you propose we force the "vagrants" to live in the "temporary shelters" or go to jail? That violates more than just their Constitutional rights, it also violates basic human rights. Take another look at the Constitution and get back to me. Thanks!

SBLetsGetAlong Nov 05, 2019 10:11 AM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

When will the County & Cities work together to put those without homes into temporary shelters. Other cities are building tent cities with facilities. There’s land to build tent cities and get the homeless into beds and out of the bushes where they’re a danger to themselves and everyone around them. Fortunately no businesses homes were lost, but the last big fire at Bath St was terrifyingly close to homes!

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 06:37 PM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

SBLETSGETALONG. I agree. There are people here in Santa Barbara who wear their "I can live in my car/I can live on the streets" life choice like a badge. In their addled brains what they are doing is terrific because they don't pay taxes, they don't work for "The Man," they are beholden to no-one. It's Freedom, dontcha know? I don't think shelters will help nearly as much as people would like to think. Stop handing out money to panhandlers and make it punishingly difficult to be here, not easier.

a-1576170663 Nov 05, 2019 11:15 AM
Large Homeless Camp Catches Fire in Goleta

SBLETSGETALONG - the temporary shelters are a great idea, but unlike the poster at 10:33, I hope you understand we can't force people to move there. I think, even with such shelters, there would still be a large population of homeless here in town that do not move. Either they're mentally unable to handle it, or they prefer living on the streets - there are many, especially the young gutter punks, who like living on the streets and "make a living" panhandling. Great idea though!

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