Residents worried about homeless people starting fires in Hillcrest

Posted at 6:24 PM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 21:24:55-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Residents in Hillcrest are worried homeless encampments will start more fires in the area.

Back in March, a canyon underneath the Vermont Street Bridge went up in flames. Fire crews say it was started from an encampment. 

Marina Macklin knows that problem all too well. 

"You're very afraid of the fires," said Macklin. "Because they move really quickly out there because it's so dry." 

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Nearly two months later, debris from the Vermont Street Bridge remains in the canyon. 

"They cleaned it up? No." said Macklin. "It's all still there, it's all laying down there."

According to the University Heights Community Association, the canyon west of the bridge is owned by Caltrans. The east side is city property. 

Councilman Christopher Ward's office says they've been working to clean it. 

"If they say they're cleaning it up they're taking their time," said Macklin. "Why?" 

She says cleaning it won't solve the problem. 

"They go down there, set up their camps, somebody starts a fire, and they leave for a while," said Macklin."The city might go down there and do a little bit of stuff and then as soon as it's all clear and they feel safe the homeless go back in there again."

Councilman Ward's office said they've already added more security guards to the Hillcrest Market area. 

"Security guards up here don’t do anything for the canyon," said Macklin. "I don’t even think they're supposed to go there. Is the city gonna hire security guards to go down into the canyon? I don’t think so."