Brush fire hits close to home, neighbors speculate homeless camp could be to blame

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Mop up efforts continue tonight as crews keep a close eye on a grass fire that sparked Wednesday afternoon.

It happened just before 1 p.m. in the 1500 block of Manitou Boulevard and West Uintah Street, a popular residential and commercial business area.

The fire burned three acres and forced some folks in the neighborhood to temporarily evacuate their homes.

“I turned around and looked out this window and it was all flames,” said Kelly Jacobson, a woman who lives in the neighborhood.

Jacobson lives just a few short feet from where the grass fire was burning, a sight she never thought she would witness so close to her home.

“When you first see those flames, you don’t know how quickly it’s going to turn or something’s going to land on your roof so it’s terrifying,” she said.

The fire burned in a grassy hill area known as “the mesa” to those who live in the neighborhood. They say it’s a place not a lot of people go because it’s known to have homeless camps.

“A lot of homeless people came down out of the hills as the fire was happening,” said Greg Kreger, a man who works in the neighborhood. “Between 10 and 15, a pretty good exodus coming out there for awhile.”

“There’s camps up there,” said Jacobson. “For some reason, this year it spiked. Usually they only find one or two but the last time I talked to the homeless outreach team, there were 11 encampments up there.”

The official cause of the fire is still under investigation tonight but fire officials did confirm finding belongings of a homeless camp.

“We do have remnants of a transient camp back in that area so investigators will look into how that played into this fire,” said Captain Steve Wilch with the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

Fire officials are reminding folks that extremely dry conditions combined with strong winds can pose for serious fire danger and urge everyone to use precaution.

“That’s what really scared us,” said Kreger. “That’s why we were out checking it out right away. We called it in and the potential’s always there to get bad.”

No homes or structures were damaged in the fire.

 

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