RIVERSIDE: Firefighters quickly knock down blaze at homeless encampment

RIVERSIDE — Fire and railway officials are investigating a suspicious wood and debris fire at a homeless encampment along the BNSF railroad tracks after firefighters quickly knocked down the fire, late Saturday evening, Jan. 6.

When officials arrived at the scene of a debris fire they found a man throwing rocks at the fire in an effort to knock down the pile of burning debris. Loudlabs News photo

City of Riverside Fire Department and BNSF Railway Police responded to multiple reports of a possible structure fire shortly before 11 p.m. The fire was reported in the 2600 block of Kansas Avenue, between Roberta and Spruce Streets, in Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood.

When officials arrived at the scene, they found a man throwing rocks at a large debris fire that was burning near a ramp at the back of an industrial warehouse adjacent to a set of three BNSF railroad tracks.

Firefighters made a quick and aggressive attack on the fire and managed to contain the blaze to the pile of debris. Their quick efforts prevented the fire from spreading to the business, which was not damaged in the fire.

The homeless encampment and most of the personal belongings including bedding and pillows were destroyed by the fire.

The man seen throwing rocks at the fire later told Loudlabs News he had been throwing rocks at the fire in an effort to break apart the debris, in order to keep the blaze from spreading to and damaging overhead power lines.

It was not immediately known if the man lived at the homeless encampment destroyed by the fire or if he was interviewed by law enforcement and fire officials regarding the origin of the blaze.

There were no reported injuries as a result of the fire and the cause remains under investigation.

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 grandchildren.

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