Sept. 18, 2020 (VENICE, Calif) – A series of fires have broken out in homeless encampments in Venice in the past week, threatening the lives and safety of people forced to live on the street and alarming neighbors. Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin, the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles Police Department released the following statement:

“City agencies are making a concerted effort to protect people from the risk of fire at and near homeless encampments after a rash of fires in the past week where unhoused people are living in Venice neighborhoods.

“We will be increasing coordination and attention to the risk of fires at local encampments, seeking the public’s help in identifying the causes of recent fires, investigating any fires that may be set intentionally, and taking steps to reduce the presence of flammable materials by trimming vegetation and increasing trash pickup.

“While fires in homeless encampments are often started accidentally when heating or cooking fires spread, there have been reports that some of the fires in the past week may have been started deliberately. In one of the fires, which took place Thursday on Ocean Front Walk, LAFD arson investigators and LAPD detectives identified a suspect, who was living in a nearby encampment, and have made an arrest in the arson investigation.

“Investigators currently have no leads to pursue as they look into the causes of other recent fires. Anyone with any information on who started any of these fires – including videos from security or doorbell video cameras – is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles Fire Department at: 213-893-9800.

“Next week, Councilmember Bonin will be asking the City of Los Angeles to post a reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone who intentionally started any of the recent fires.

“Additionally, in an effort to reduce the presence of material near encampments that can catch fire, Councilmember Bonin’s office is coordinating with the Department of Recreation & Parks to trim the trees and overgrown brush around the encampment at the Penmar Golf Course, and with the Bureau of Sanitation to increase sanitation services to make it easier for encampments residents to dispose of trash.

“Councilmember Bonin, who is seeking sites for safe camping and tiny homes villages, and increasing resources for immediate housing options to reduce encampments, will also be working with LAHSA, homeless service agencies, and the unhoused residents to identify resources to help prevent accidental fires in encampments.”

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