Social service workers knew that homeless people sometimes lived in a ravine near Sepulveda Boulevard and the 405 Freeway — the suspected ignition point of a wildfire that scorched Bel-Air last month — but the encampment was never on the fire department’s radar.
On Friday, fire officials said they would begin surveying encampments in about 20% of the city, including Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Sherman Oaks, Sunland-Tujunga and Mt. Washington.
“We want those people in these [fire] zones to voluntarily move,” Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said. “It’s as clear cut as that. This is a public safety issue, this is a trespassing issue.”
The survey, which should take about a week to complete, is part of a broader effort to clear the makeshift homes hidden in Los Angeles’ hillsides and ravines, and prevent accidental blazes. The effort comes amid a surge in the city’s homeless population and rising concern over wildfire risk.