PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The fires that destroyed two RVs in Southeast Portland over the weekend damaged power and cable lines. Neighbors are concerned about the safety of those staying in the RVs — as well as the community at large.
No one was hurt in either fire near SE 110th and Foster, and investigators determined the fires on Saturday and Sunday were accidental.
“They are there on and off,” resident Sharon Grigar said. “It’s not always the same RVs. It changes out but it has become a regular parking spot, even though on Foster Road it says clearly it’s marked ‘No Parking.'”
She added that one of the concerns is the fire itself. “Mt. Scott is a very wooded area.”
“Saturday morning, we woke up, most of the valley in around this community in the area, woke up without any internet services and most of them without power as well,” one neighbor, who asked not to be identified, told KOIN 6 News.
Many residents in the area reached out to elected officials.
“What I am asking for as a resident is that these structures aren’t near critical infrastructure, because if there is an accident it impacts far more than that area,” that neighbor said. “It impacts the community around them and the essential services we need.”
Neighbors ultimately want to find them a safer place to go.
“If we think by letting people just camp in these what I would call inhumane conditions that we are helping by allowing this, I don’t think we are helping them,” Grigar said. “I think it’s unsafe for them and it’s unhealthy for the community.”
In the City of Portland the Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program has no involvement with vehicles. Abandoned vehicles can be reported online.
“There’s a lot of people that want to take action,” a neighbor said, “and not necessarily to kick anyone out of the neighborhood, just into a safer place to stay.”
One neighbor said he heard back from Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Others said they have not heard back from city officials.
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, a city spokesperson said, “If campers living in vehicles are breaking any parking violations it should be reported to PBOT. Otherwise it’s legal to camp in vehicles in Portland. If people report garbage around vehicles, HUCIRP will respond to that and pick up garbage – but we don’t have any involvement in the actual vehicle.”
Another neighbor, Maureen K., described herself as a concerned resident of the Powell Butte area. She said it’s a “humanitarian crisis” and “serious public health and safety issues.”
“We implore our municipal, county and state government officials to lead—we need them to think and create real solutions to these very serious, urgent problems,” Maureen said. “We need compassion as well as courageous, smart leadership.”
“My heart goes out to those suffering from houselessness,” Grigar said. “Whatever is happening or not happening is just not working.”