Fire broke out at a tiny home village for the homeless in Oakland Monday morning. The fire at Lakeview Village sent a plume of black smoke into the sky.

Firefighters responded and the blaze was put out. The photo above shows the extent of the damage. The East Bay Times reports the tiny home where the fire started was unoccupied at the time.

Three homes in the area of 2nd Avenue and East 12th Street were fully destroyed in the fire, which broke out just after 10 a.m. and was brought under control at 10:30 a.m., said Oakland Fire Department spokesperson Michael Hunt. Another home suffered “moderate damage,” while the other 12 homes weren’t impacted.

No injuries were reported and five people were displaced, Hunt said. Crews were still on the scene. The fire originated in one occupied unit but the person in the home wasn’t there when the fire started, according to surveillance footage, Hunt said. The cause of the fire will most likely be ruled as accidental.

ABC 7 reported last year that the tiny homes at Lakeview Village had electricity and heaters:

Lakeview Village will be a step up from the “community cabins” already in Oakland.

Here there will be potable water, flushing toilets, other support services and life-enhancing amenities.

These tiny homes are definitely an upgrade from what Oakland constructed before, including working electricity and a built-in heater

This particular fire may have been an accident but similar accidents are very common in homeless camps in Oakland and elsewhere. In fact there have been at least four fires this month at a homeless camp under a freeway overpass in Oakland. The first on happened on March 1 and burned an RV, a van and two more vehicles. The second fire happened a few blocks away. No one was hurt in that fire but it took firefighters about two hours to put it out. 

Just three days later there was another fire in this same location. That fire was also ruled accidental:

The three RVs were destroyed in the fire in the lot, which houses 17 RVs in a designated area run by Operation Dignity, which partners with the city of Oakland, said Michael Hunt, a spokesperson for the Oakland Fire Department. A fourth RV was damaged.

“The irony of it being called a safe RV lot was not lost on us,” Hunt said.

No one was killed or injured in the fire, except for one dog that died, he said, but the fire spread quickly from one RV near the gate to another and then a third. The RVs are parked in a line, about 3 to 4 feet apart, he said, but about 20 firefighters arrived quickly and were able to halt the blaze’s spread in about 15 minutes.

Here’s video of the aftermath:

Then two days ago there was another RV on fire in the same location:

A quick search on Twitter showed lots more fires like this in Oakland homeless camps.

There’s more like this going back several years.

I don’t know how many fires at homeless camps Oakland firefighters respond to but back in 2019 an analysis found Portland firefighters responded to over 1,200 calls like this in just two years.

Obviously people need to cook and stay warm but having people who can barely keep their lives together set up portable electric or propane stoves and heating in spaces where “homes” are tightly packed together is a recipe for disaster. I suspect the problem in Oakland and other west coast cities is much worse than it appears but most people, even those who live in the area, probably aren’t aware of how often this sort of things happens.

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