Authorities clearing Azusa-area homeless encampment at park where frequent fires are reported

Local news

Authorities on Tuesday were working to clean up an Azusa-area homeless encampment that has become the site of frequent fires, officials said.

There have been more than 70 fires reported in Lario Park over the past two years, with two fires reported last week, according to Lt. Geoffrey Deedrick from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Services Team.

“The fire danger is significant. Not only for people experiencing homelessness … but for the surrounding neighborhoods that are around here,” Deedrick said. “The community has expressed some concern over that fire danger, and that’s one of the reasons we’re here.”

Tuesday’s effort marked the final phase of an effort to clear the encampment along the San Gabriel River Trail after months of outreach to homeless residents at the park, according to Deedrick.

Work was underway at one of four quadrants where officials said they found at least 85 abandoned tents, and four people experiencing homelessness.

Signs posted in the area warn that anyone found camping or trespassing after Tuesday will be told to leave.

But the lieutenant said anyone experiencing homelessness encountered in the area Tuesday will be connected with a service provider to help them get off the streets.

So far, about 40 people living in the area have accepted some type of service to get into a shelter through the sheriff’s team, officials said.

“We’ve been doing intense outreach here since April… there’s been many opportunities for those to connect,” Deedrick said. “But even through today’s cleanup, we extend that opportunity also today.”

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