Number of Fires Set by Homeless People Hits 38 a Day in Los Angeles

The number almost doubled that recorded in 2020.
Number of Fires Set by Homeless People Hits 38 a Day in Los Angeles
A fire burns a homeless encampment in Los Angeles on Jan. 20, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Jill McLaughlin

The number of fires in Los Angeles set by the homeless continues to rise, according to a report published May 9.

Citing Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) data, an investigation by local news station NBC 4 discovered the number of fires related to homeless encampments has steadily climbed over the past five years.

The LAFD reported 13,909 homeless fires in 2023—or about 38 a day, almost double the number recorded in 2020, according to the report.

The blazes are typically started around encampments built by transients along sidewalks, in parks, under freeway bridges, and elsewhere throughout the city.

“I fear for my safety,” Hollywood resident and realtor Levi Freeman told the news station. “A tent fire could set other buildings ablaze and then go to the next building if [firefighters] can’t get here fast enough.”

One fire under a bridge on the Interstate Freeway 10 from last October, which closed the freeway for eight days, is suspected to have been started by a homeless person. The state fire marshal determined it was intentionally set and released a photo of a possible suspect.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has not yet announced any arrests in the case and didn’t immediately return a request for comment on deadline.

Other fires are caused by transients who tap into city electrical wires under the sidewalk to divert electricity into their tents, according to NBC 4’s investigation.

Many fires are limited to dumpsters and piles of trash, but a few are tragic and costly, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Seven homeless people died in fires set in 2020 as the number of tents and campers on Los Angeles streets surged during the pandemic, the newspaper reported.

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.