Addressing the Fire Threat
In recent weeks, the Santa Rosa Fire Department (SRFD) has responded to a number of structure and wildland fires across Santa Rosa resulting from encampment activity and SRFD remains on heightened watch for such risks during fire season when higher winds, low humidity, and dry conditions are forecast.
The City’s Homeless Encampment Assistance Program (HEAP) team has been closely monitoring the encampment at Fremont Park (also known as Cancer Survivor’s Plaza), which has grown considerably in size over the last few weeks and has presented a number of fire hazards. Due to concerns raised by the HEAP team regarding the growing size of the encampments, SRFD completed a threat assessment of Fremont Park. Several issues within the encampment areas were determined to be of significant and immediate fire threat to neighboring structures and within the Park itself, including evidence of open cooking fires both in containers and on the ground as well as ash piles disposed of among dry vegetation. Given Fremont Park is adjacent to residential and commercial structures and the manner in which the encampments were located in and around vegetation and under tree canopies, the high potential for direct or indirect fire ignition resulting from the encampment prompted the Fire Department to request immediate action be taken in the park to mitigate these hazards. Park maintenance crews secured areas of Fremont Park to address the identified fire hazards.
Services Offered to Those Experiencing Homelessness
Outreach and notification to individuals within the park was led by the Santa Rosa Police Department and Catholic Charities’ Homeless Outreach Service Team (HOST). Through this effort, the City was successful in placing 25 individuals from the encampments into services, including 2 into permanent supportive housing, and others at the City’s Samuel L. Jones Hall Homeless Shelter, the Safe Social Distancing Program at Finley, and hotel rooms. The goal of this outreach is always to encourage individuals to move into safer conditions where they would also have access to needed health and social services. For more information on the City’s efforts to address homelessness amid the public health emergency, visit SRCity.org/COVID19HomelessSupport.