SFD on pace to respond to more than 1,000 encampment fires in 2023

Apr 5, 2023, 5:19 PM

encampment fire...

(Photo courtesy of Seattle Fire Department)

(Photo courtesy of Seattle Fire Department)

Three encampment fires were reported by Seattle Fire Department (SFD) Wednesday, bringing the total to 261 in just over three months, on pace for a third year in a row of more than 1,000 recorded encampment fires, according to SFD Live.

The three fires Wednesday occurred at 15th Ave NE., the intersection of S. Holgate St and Utah Ave S., and 7th Ave NE., all occurring before 8 a.m.

Last year, SFD responded to 1,538 encampment fires during 2022, according to the department, averaging 128 a month, while 1,446 fires occurred at encampments in 2021. 2020 saw just 854 instances, 45% less than 2022’s mark.

Possible meth lab caught fire in Chinatown encampment

Only one major incident — an encampment fire that required five or more units assigned — has been reported this year, a significant drop from the 21 combined over the last two years.

The area with the most encampment fires in Seattle this year is along 6th Ave, between Yesler Way and Seneca Street, and near Broadway.

One of the encampments on 6th Ave., near Airport Way, was cleared out Wednesday, according to the King County Regional Homeless Authority. It’s the fifth encampment cleared within the city in the last two weeks. Seventy-four people living in the encampment were moved into either a shelter or permanent housing.

Additionally, an encampment under the First Avenue Bridge was also cleared last month, as state and city crews in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood relocated 35 people out of the camp, with 30 accepting housing.

“We have a housing crisis and we are in the beginning stages of fighting it with major cleanup efforts all across the state of Washington,” Inslee said in an impromptu press conference when touring the encampment. “Reductions of homeless camps in Spokane, in Vancouver, in Seattle, Tukwila.”

The clearing of the First Avenue bridge encampment came after months of public outcry as a group of parents demanded action from the state. This specific encampment reportedly caused a series of traffic delays, while shootings, fires, and deaths around the encampment have spurred serious safety concerns for those who live nearby.

Parents protest Ship Canal Bridge encampment near school

SFD is in the midst of a significant staff shortage following the executive decision to require a vaccine mandate for those employed.

In two separate lawsuits filed in 2022, according to KIRO News 7, more than 20 Seattle firefighters sued Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins and the city over their imminent or past terminations related to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Bruce Harrell announced in February that both King County and the city of Seattle will no longer require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, but the department has yet to rehire those who left over the mandate.

SFD shelled out $38 million in overtime in 2021 in response to its staffing shortages, a 49% increase over 2019 and the most in department history.

MyNorthwest News

Former President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 20, 2024. (...

Bill Kaczaraba

Bellevue man donates $1 million to Trump super PAC

A Bellevue man donated $1 million to a Political Action Committee (PAC) that supports Donald Trump just a day after he became a convicted felon.

12 hours ago

Photo: Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson....

James Lynch

Auburn Officer Jeff Nelson’s fate now in hands of jury

It has been five years since Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson shot and killed 26-year-old Jesse Sarey who was going through a crisis.

13 hours ago

Queen Anne, Uptown, parking...

Bill Kaczaraba

Power company investigating early morning outage to Queen Anne, Magnolia

Seattle City Light wants to know why 10,000 customers lost power in the early morning hours on Saturday.

14 hours ago

Image: A Seattle Police Department vehicle can be seen parked in the city of Seattle....

Bill Kaczaraba

Police search for suspects in West Seattle fatal shooting

In the early hours of Saturday morning, Seattle Police detectives launched an investigation into a fatal shooting in West Seattle.

15 hours ago

Photo: Medics respond to a crash in SeaTac on June 21, 2024....

Julia Dallas

1 killed, several others injured in major SeaTac car crash

Five people and two cars were involved in a violent car crash in SeaTac on Friday, the King County Sheriff's Office told KIRO Newsradio.

1 day ago

Photo: Lacey police are investigating a deadly shooting....

KIRO 7 News Staff

21-year-old arrested in Lacey double murder after police chase

A 21-year-old man led police on a chase following the murder of two people whom he lived with in Lacey.

1 day ago

SFD on pace to respond to more than 1,000 encampment fires in 2023