FRESNO, California (KSEE) – “So, of those 1,900 fires, about a thousand, a little over 1,000 are attributed to some form of homeless activity,” said Shane Brown, the Public Information Officer for the Fresno Fire Department.
“We’ve had a rash lately, in the last couple of months where individuals are just literally walking from point A to point Z and along the way, they’re just stopping and lighting things on fire. No rhyme or reason,” said Jay Tracy, the Deputy Fire Marshal for the Fresno Fire Department.
This morning’s church fire near Harvey and Jackson avenues is still under investigation, but is believed to be arson which keeps a critically understaffed fire department from other potentially life saving work.
“In the big picture, they’re smaller fires, but what it does is it pulls our firefighters out of the system so they’re not available to go on a structure fire where they may be able to make a significant impact and save someone’s home or potentially even save their life,” said Tracy.
Fresno City’s Project Off-Ramp and other initiatives aim to combat homeless issues in the community. The Fresno Fire Department says it is making a difference, at least along the highways.
“We feel it, we feel it in the field, we feel that we’re not responding out to the highways as much, for that I guarantee you the crews are very appreciative of that,” said Brown.
Fresno City, Mayor Jerry Dyer says it is an ongoing effort and stresses there are no quick fixes for the problem.
“We’re gonna continue with our efforts to house the homeless. We have a long-term strategy in place. I do ask that the community be patient with us because we don’t have all of the housing that we currently need for our homeless population, but we are acquiring that month by month.”