BERKELEY (KPIX) — While the Bay Area braces for another night of bitter cold temperatures, the unhoused are trying to find a way to keep warm safely. This comes after a fire ripped through a large encampment in Berkeley.
It will be another cold night for the residents at the Seabreeze encampment. An orange glow can be seen as the residents do what they can to keep warm. A few though lost their tents Monday in the fast moving fire.
“I made it out of there, thanks to the grace of God,” said LaTonya West, a Seabreeze encampment resident.
West has called the off ramp at University Avenue home for the last six years. The morning fire though destroyed all her belongings.
“I lost my furniture and everything I had, down to my change of clothes,” adds West.
The Berkeley Fire Department hasn’t determined the cause of the blaze yet but West says it started inside her neighbors tent. Monday night, those at the encampment worked together to make sure West had some shelter for the cold night.
“While they go do what they can do, to get another tarp, I’m going to do what I can do to put up the framework so they have a place to put it,” said Erin, a neighbor.
The City of Berkeley has a winter relief program to try to house those that are the most vulnerable in the cold weather but it can’t house them all.
West was injured in a fire earlier this year, and even lost the medical supplies she had to treat her burns.
“All the medical stuff is gone. My sister came today and she’s going to get me some medical supplies first and then a change of clothes,” said West.
Firefighters have responded to several fires at this location but encampment fires are a concern throughout the Bay Area. There was another fire Monday at an encampment in Oakland. The residents here say they do everything they can to stay warm safely.
Erin says, “Vigilantes will and competence skill. I pay attention. That’s how I stay safe.”
The Berkeley City Council is expected to adopt a resolution at its meeting Tuesday night to receive $25,000 from Alameda County to fund the winter relief program through May of 2021.