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SAFD warns of homeless starting fires to keep warm

Warehouse Fire.JPG

SAN ANTONIO - Chilly times call for desperate measures for some homeless men and women west of downtown.

Fire investigators say they've seen an uptick of vacant building fires started by homeless trying to stay warm.

"For some reason my dog was barking back there in the back," said homeowner Alfred Camarillo.

Before the sirens, and before the fire engines watch dogs at the Camarillo home alerted people inside about the danger out back.

"There was a warehouse fire right behind, right behind the warehouse," Camarillo said.

Signs of heavy smoke from Wednesday's fire surround a now boarded entry way of an abandoned warehouse located at 302 Rivas Street.

Investigators say homeless men and women had forced their way in and used debris to create a small fire to keep warm.

It's happened twice at the warehouse within the past ten days.

"It's not a massive increase but we do see an increase in fires in abandoned buildings," said San Antonio Fire Spokesman Joe Arrington.

Joe Arrington says those small fires can create big problems.

"It's never going to be safe if you have a fire going inside of an abandoned building, and you fall asleep that fire can grow and eventually endanger your safety and well-being," Arrington explained.

"It could spread you know windy like this you know yeah," Camarillo said.

Alfred Camarillo is worried about the fire spreading to neighboring businesses and homes.

"And then back there in the back there's a couple of older houses," Camarillo said. "They're all wooden houses around here and they can catch on fire easily."

There have been other problems at the abandoned warehouse.

In May 2018, police were called for loud music, and in October 2018 for a burglary in progress.

"It's an access issue with us it's a dangerous structure holes in the floor the roof isn't exactly stable," Arrington said.

City Code Enforcement has worked to keep the building secured, but investigators say people seeking shelter keep breaking in.

"It's an ongoing effort," Arrington said. "It's great when our partners with the city can work to secure those facilities we're extremely grateful for that."

Code Enforcement workers were out here Wednesday afternoon, securing the building once again.

If you notice suspicious activity at an abandoned building don't hesitate to dial 911.

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