PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A tent pitched outside of the Portland Korean Church in downtown Portland went up in flames Wednesday night.
The fire occurred at Southwest 10th Avenue and Southwest Clay Street — and took fire crews only moments to respond. The flames were quickly climbing up the tree as a crew dosed the fire.
Residents who live across the street were watching as it spread to a second tent.
Portland Fire & Rescue rushed to the scene and extinguished the flames within minutes. There is no word on any injuries or estimated damage.
Residents in the area told KOIN 6 News they’ve noticed an increase in the number of tent fires in recent months. PF&R said they responded to three tent fires in March, 64 in April and 45 in May.
“It happens more and more lately. I’ve seen seven or eight of them in the last six months; this one was just last night and I could see it from my balcony,” said local resident Tom. “They have to do something because it gets worse and worse.”
A woman who has experienced homelessness and asked to not be named said the fires are the result of a failure on the city’s part to house and care for those living on the streets.
“Theres people with grills out here and usually even in the winter there’s people with small campfires because they need to keep warm and they need eat — there’s a reason why fires happen,” she said.
Another fire was extinguished a few weeks ago near SW 10th and Columbia — just steps from where the tent caught fire on Wednesday. Officials said someone had broken into the light pole and used jumper cables to try to steal power.
“It’s not unusual for our crews to respond to houseless camps, we do it several times a day and there are often fires in the camps,” said PF&R spokesperson Rob Garrison. “But again when you are living in a tent with the different heating sources and when everything you live in is flammable the risk goes up.”
Another community member expressed concerns about trash that blocks sidewalks.
The City of Portland says you can call 311 to report a camp for clean-up or use the One Point of Contact Campsite Reporting System.