SEATTLE, Wash. — New data released Tuesday by the Seattle Fire Department shows the city’s fire crews responded to 1,538 encampment fires during 2022, averaging 128 a month.
The data reflects a slight increase from 2021, when Seattle Fire recorded 1,446 fires at encampments, and 854 in 2020.
On Monday, KOMO News reported on an encampment fire in South Lake Union where wooden structures and tents burned.
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Seattle 911 data shows it was the fifth time an encampment fire had been reported on the block since August 2021.
“I think the city needs to really take accountability," said John Marino, who lives near the encampment that burned. "They need to be responsible and clean this up immediately. We live here, we’re concerned and by allowing this to continue it’s getting worse.”
Members of the Seattle Fire Fighters Union IAFF Local 27 told city leadership last year that firefighters were reporting being assaulted at encampment fires, including cases of being threatened with weapons.
Mayor Bruce Harrell's office sent the following statement to KOMO News:
"Mayor Harrell believes that firefighters do not need nor deserve additional threats to their wellbeing when they are trying to keep all neighbors safe. Mayor Harrell is continuing to address the homelessness crisis and public safety issues related to encampments with urgency. That is why the Unified Care Team, which includes representatives of the Seattle Fire Department, regularly meets to determine which encampments will be addressed next, considering City resource capacity and a variety of factors, including public safety incidents and verified SPD and SFD data, shelter availability, impact to public space and the natural environment, pedestrian access, pending construction, and more.
The mayor included a 50% increase in SFD's recruitment class in the budget to support firefighter wellbeing, capacity, and community safety. He will continue working with SFD and Local 27 to advance efforts to support firefighter safety at the local and state level. We will also continue working to improve and diversify public safety incident responses, creating alternatives that best match the appropriate services and behavioral health response to the issue at hand."