SAN JOSE(CBS SF) – A firefighter narrowly escaped a serious injury Sunday when he fell in a pit rigged with sharpened tree branches at an abandoned San Jose homeless encampment over the weekend.
His crew responded just after 10 a.m. to a small fire at the gathering spot on the east side of Communications Hill. As the engine team worked to extinguish the fire, one of the members stepped over a log and into the trap.
“This booby-trap consisted of a hole in the ground filled with sharpened sticks, covered by burlap with light twigs placed under the burlap to support a thin layer of dirt,” wrote SJFD Battalion Chief Reggie Williams in an “Encampment Hazard” warning sent to officers. “The burlap was also supported by a piece of wood which would force the victim step over prior to falling into the device.”
Trapping pits have traditionally been used to trap large animals such as bears, wolves or elk.
The firefighter was uninjured, but Williams called it a “Close-call event with a high potential for injury” and asked crews to look out for such “complexities” when responding to encampments.
“This was the only device found at this site and was destroyed by the crew on scene prior to leaving,” Williams said.
There is no indication who the trap was set intended for or the identity of those responsible for creating it.