OCEANSIDE – A trash fire near a homeless encampment in Oceanside caused a dramatic display of smoke over the I-5 freeway earlier this month.
The city’s fire department arrived at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at the scene of a large pile of trash on fire under an abandoned overpass by the Interstate 5 and state Route 76 interchange. Firefighters swiftly applied water and had the fire fully controlled within minutes, and only less than a quarter of an acre of shrubbery was burned.
Fire Chief Rick Robinson said the fire looked worse than it was, creating a heavy, dark cloud that was starting to cover the nearby freeway.
“It made quite a head of smoke and looked pretty dramatic,” he said. “My biggest concern was smoke over the freeway becoming significant enough to distract drivers.”
According to the incident report, the trash fire happened near a homeless encampment and was likely started by an open flame or other hot objects.
Robinson said the fire department can’t determine if it was set intentionally or not as there were no witnesses or evidence recovered from the scene, however, he noted that it was likely “human-caused and homeless related.”
Fires like this happen frequently, according to the fire chief. The fire department previously responded to several fires around a homeless encampment near McDonald’s on Oceanside Boulevard.
“There were a couple of times their fires got out of control,” Robinson said.