Residents blame city for close call with brush fire

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SAN DIEGO -- Neighbors in Oak Park say a brush fire that nearly reached their homes could have been avoided with better work by the city.

Firefighters rushed to put out the flames of a fire that broke out at North Chollas Community Park Sunday. Crews managed to extinguish the flames in under an hour, but neighbors believe the blaze was too close for comfort.

Homeowner Keith Burke told FOX 5 that for three years he and other neighbors have repeatedly told the city they were fearful of a fire due to brush and homeless encampments at the park.

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Montgomery's Office sent a statement to FOX 5 Monday responding to claims the city has been unresponsive:

"Public safety is a top priority for my office. When we unveiled new fire apparatus at the beginning of this season, I urged all San Diegans to be proactive and to observe the best safety practices to prevent brush fires.

"When a brush fire starts, it is usually attributable to natural or human causes. The cause of this brush fire is still under investigation, but thanks to San Diego Fire-Rescue and our trained firefighters, the brush fire in Oak Park was contained ensuring there were no injuries or property damage.  I commend them on a job well done.

"My office is in contact with the Brush Management Section as we are closely monitoring the planned brush abatement for our district.

"We are also working to address the concerns of our Oak Park residents through the expansion of the Clean SD program, which provides additional abatement to the North Chollas area."

“I’m still a little frustrated that it took an actual fire that was within a couple-hundred feet of homes to get people to respond to it," said Burke. "I am pleased that there is some movement on this and I'm hopeful that we can take care of the underlying problem."

Burke said he and other neighbors have planned a meeting with Councilwoman Montgomery for September.

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