Early this morning, the Seattle Fire Department responded to an RV fire near East Marginal Way South and South Spokane Street. An RV caught fire when the owner attempted to start the vehicle and the fire spread to another RV. SFD extinguished the fire and there were no injuries. The Seattle Department of Transportation inspected the bridge and found no structural damage.
Last week, the City worked to remove a nearby tent encampment along the bike trail adjacent to the north end of where Spokane Street meets the West Seattle Bridge, as well as clean trash all along the Spokane Street corridor. Secondary to that effort, the City has been working on a plan to move the RVs and tents camping under the Spokane Street viaduct with the goal being no camping at all under the viaduct.
While closing the area to all camping will take a bit more time, we are now addressing the immediate hazard where the fire occurred early this morning.
The Navigation Team has been there all morning, doing individualized outreach and offering alternative shelter. For today, we are focusing on removing the two burned out RVs, which will first require moving other RVs and tents in that immediate vicinity to create a safe work zone. The Navigation Team is assisting with moving people a safe distance for that to occur.
Over the next 10 days, the area under the western end of the Spokane Street Viaduct will be cleared of all people and structures and a work zone perimeter will be established to allow SDOT and Seattle City Light to perform repair and maintenance unrelated to today’s fire. Outreach will continue up to that point to work with the individuals living there and find them alternative shelter.
We are beginning to assess the working condition of the RVs and other vehicles all along the Spokane Street as we work to close the area to all camping. Outreach will lead the engagement with any individuals living in tents or RVs.
In general, the City has been focusing its efforts to address the homelessness crisis on working with individuals in tent encampments, especially the ones with the greatest public health and safety concerns for the individuals and the surrounding community. The Navigation Team has been finding success with many individuals, finding solutions that fit their needs and helping move them into safer living situations. Other City crews are addressing the trash related to encampments and illegal dumping in general around the city. This work will continue.
Camping under low bridge structures presents a hazard for this essential infrastructure. In addition to other efforts to mitigate the impacts of the homelessness crisis, including working to move people into alternative shelter and cleaning trash, we will be assessing these low bridge structures around the city and will prioritize efforts to address immediate hazards.