Halaco Homeless Encampment Fire

By Douglas Partello

Today, August 14, 2021, in the late morning hours, there was a single structure fire at the Halaco Homeless Encampment. No other camps, or structures were involved. The ‘ramshackle’ structure fire destroyed it completely. Oxnard and Ventura County Firefighters, and Oxnard Police responded.

The homeless campers responded quickly with shovels, and buckets of dirt to extinguish the fire. It is rumored to have started as a result of a domestic dispute. Later the firefighters doused the fire with their hoses, to ensure containment, and no spread to other camps, or adjoining Nature Conservancy habitat.

There have been a few other camps burnt in the recent past, for similar situations, and as retaliation for a variety of disputes. The City of Oxnard, in coordination with Ventura County, is planning an eviction of all campers sometime in November of this year. This encampment is on privately owned property, and is an EPA Super Fund site. In 2018, the homeless were evicted from Ormond Beach, and some of them moved to the slag pile. The last slag pile eviction occurred in December, 2019. Currently, there are about sixty-four persons illegally camped on this site. The owners filed for bankruptcy, and are inattentive to the property. The EPA has concluded its study of the ‘slag pile’, and surrounding area. There were three studies in total. The last being to determine if the slag pile could be used to make Portland Cement. They concluded it cannot.

The campers will be given the option to accept vouchers for temporary housing in local motels, when the eviction occurs. This program will run from September, 2021 until September 15, 2022. A variety of services will also be offered, including substance abuse treatment, and mental health services.

The fires that have occurred on this encampment, and surrounding Nature Conservancy property,  present one of many concerns the public shares about the safety and health of the homeless in encampments, such as Halaco, and others, and the dangers to the community at large, with many illegal encampments existing throughout Ventura County.

Douglas Partello
Community Activist
Homeless Advocate
Executive Director Nicaraguan Children’s Fund
Retired Neonatal Respiratory Therapist

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal

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