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Neighbors feeling angst after homeless camps move into site of repeat fires

Posted at 4:50 PM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 22:11:26-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Homeless encampments have moved into the site of previous fires in University heights, sparking more fire concerns.

March 2018. Amid a firefight along Highway 163, bystanders on the Vermont Street Bridge looking on soon after the flames spark. Fire crews would put out that fire without any major damage. Months later, a smaller fire erupted in the same area, near another encampment.

Marybeth Chruden and the University Heights Community Association organized a petition drive, leading the San Diego City Council to approve more than a million dollars for canyon abatements across the city, including one at the University Heights site in July.

In the past few weeks, that site looked a lot different.

"Shocked, but in a way, not surprised," said Chruden.

Chruden's group posted photos on their Facebook page of homeless encampments and the surrounding mess.

"It shows they are very comfortable, out in the open ... We see people smoking and little campfires down there. The fire danger still high with dry materials in that canyon," said Chruden.

Chruden says after several requests on the city's 'Get It Done' app, crews cleared out the area Wednesday morning, except for one mattress. The problem? She expects the homeless to move back in soon.

"Maybe tonight, in three days or four days. Within a week, something will be going on down there," said Chruden.

Chruden believes regular visits to the area by city crews are needed, possibly twice a month. 10news reached out to Councilmember Chris Ward's office for a comment and are waiting to hear back.