By Holly Quan

MARTINEZ (KCBS) – Contra Costa County fire officials are seeing a dangerous trend of squatters starting fires in foreclosed houses they have broken into.

On Monday night, a one-alarm fire at 401 H St., which was thought to be vacant, caused thousands of dollars in damage.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Contra Costa Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Terry Stewart said they are seeing more fires like this started by people living illegally in foreclosed homes, upping the risk for firefighters.

“People will break into them and they’re quiet about it,” Stewart said. “They’ll sneak into a house. Neighbors clearly don’t have a clue what may or may not be inside the house, or the condition of the person that’s living there at that time. It does pose some risk and threats for the fire department.”

Luis, a homeless man who lives in his car, won’t justify squatting.

“The problem is the homeless people. Something has to be done,” he said. “We’ve got to do something for them because they’re not doing it for themselves.”

With some predicting that this could be the worst fire season in 20 years in the Bay Area, Stewart said the problem with squatters and department cutbacks could lead to the perfect storm for a disaster.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

More From CBS San Francisco

Get The New CBS SF Bay Area Local App
LIVE: Monday through Friday from 3am – 3pm PST

Watch & Listen LIVE