AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Fire Department responded to a fire at a homeless camp Thursday on the East Anderson Lane frontage road at U.S. 183. Firefighters also shut down the U.S. 183 southbound frontage road between I-35 and Cameron Road as the Texas Department of Transportation inspected it for damage. It finally reopened Friday and officials say there is no damage to the bridge.
AFD Division Chief Chris Swenson said when crews arrived around 7:52 a.m., they found “heavy fire” under the bridge.
“In this case, my crews reported as they were approaching the scene that they couldn’t see across the bridge,” Swenson said. “So there was that much smoke.”
They put it out and no one was hurt.
This is the second fire at this homeless camp in the month of February.
AFD has responded to smoke or fire-related calls at this location more than a dozen times in the last year.
As firefighters continue to send resources, Division Chief Chris Swenson told us there are situations where those experiencing homelessness are able to start fires.
“Legitimate warming fires are allowed by city policy,” he said.
City code describes a legitimate warming fire as “A fire kindled within the confines of a metal or other non-combustible container at a construction site or other similar outdoor employment location for the sole purpose of allowing employees/workers to warm themselves without having to leave the workplace or construction site.”
The code does not specify how this applies to homeless camps.
The Austin Fire Department tells KXAN police and EMS go to different camps and help spread the word about safe fire behaviors.