Homeless people found living in storm drains after large fire breaks out

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. -- The homeless crisis has spread to Spring Valley where firefighters said people are now living in storm drains and may have started a fire Saturday night.

Steve Moran of the San Miguel Fire District spent Monday checking storm drains around Goodland Acres Park near Troy Street. The spot where he said a large fire burned Saturday. He said it was started by a growing homeless camp living in storm drains.

“The smoke was actually to the bottom of the concrete and we had to treat it like a structure fire. We were afraid they are going to get entangled and trapped. It adds more risk to the job,” he said.

Smoke seemed to come from every direction Saturday night, so has the issue of Spring Valley’s homeless population.

“We’ve always had homeless but I’ve never seen it like this. It’s an explosion of this homeless issue,” said Moran. “It’s like squeezing the toothpaste tube. You know you squeeze them out of downtown and then they come out into these areas."

Neighbors said they've seen eight to 10 people jump over the fence over the last year, camping out for days at a time. They’ve even spotted smaller fires in recent weeks.

Firefighters said they suspect people are stealing copper wire, burning the insulation off and turning it in for money.

Saturday’s fire took three hours to put out and no one was hurt.