Homeless Village Fire

Homeless Village Fire

14 May 2009

published by www.khon2.com


Honolulu firefighters were called to a brush fire early Thursday morning in Wahiawa but when they arrived they found more than then just a fire.

Just off Kamehameha Highway and steps away from the Karsten Thot bridge in Wahiawa sits a mini-homeless village.

“I’ve been around awhile and I’ve not seen this volume ever,” said Carroll Cox of Envirowatch. “When you consider this is almost two city blocks long and about 120 feet wide in some — it’s a mess!”

An estimated 25 people live here. Some have even cleared out trees to set up tents and shelter. Thursday morning firefighters responded to reports of a brush fire but this wasn’t brush.

“The smell of petroleum or plastics and various colors indicating it’s a hot fire and a variety of chemicals and substances burning from tarps, plastics, oils, propane you name it,” said Cox.

This is an illegal dump made up of layers of trash up and down the slope.

“It leads directly into the water now this isn’t an issue about homelessness I want to make that clear this is about very serious environmental issues and concerns. And something needs to be done,” said Cox.

And not just an environmental issue, a public health issue as well.

“You can see here looks like fecal matter — human fecal matter — and this is a problem — here’s a lake right here we’re standing just a feet away from the trash,” said Cox.

Lake Wilson empties into Kaukonahua Stream and other irrigation systems used by farmers in Waialua and eventually the ocean on the north shore.

“All of the pollutants is going to wash down. And right now we don’t see them but — the water level is low now so in theory the water is usually up there right at the edge where the trash is,” said Cox.

There are plastic bags and buckets filled with human waste — batteries and propane tanks everywhere.

“Imagine being a fireman and responding to this,” he said.

While we were leaving, we came upon another fire still smoldering under a concrete barrier.

“I’m informed at least 10 fires in the last few years — this probably would have been another one — number 11 but I think something needs to be done,” said Cox.

The State Department of Health was informed about the conditions.

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