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Federal Ruling Will Bring New Challenges For Sacramento, Homeless

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A fire in Sacramento that started in a homeless camp Monday may be out now, but the city's still feeling the burn.

"It's not the first fire out here. we have a lot of fires out here and difficult to control because it's not policed," said Sacramento Fire Battalion Chief Rick Hudson. "The homeless encampments can be a very dangerous place and there's quite a few of them in the city," he said.

RELATED: Federal Court: Cities Can't Prosecute People For Sleeping On Streets

A ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals against the city of Boise, Idaho set aside that city's ordinance banning sleeping in public spaces, for now, as it weighs its next option.

A Sacramento County supervisor said the county will be suspending enforcement of its no-camping ordinance until the issue is resolved. The ordinance bars camping without a permit and is aimed at the homeless population who often sleep in tents out in public and private places.

In Sacramento, the city attorney says its policy is under review. The Sacramento Police Department declined to comment on its enforcement plans.

RELATED: Court Ruling Has Sacramento County Backing Off No-Camping Ordinance

But some feel more it's just part of the story.

"The city bought this property 20 years ago. It's been a forest ever since—'bout time to clean up. They can blame the homeless, but the city's never kept it up," said Johan Otto of Sacramento.

Homeless encampment fires usually occur in the outlying parts of Sacramento and along the American River Parkway. Monday's blaze tore through an open field on the west side of the city and exposed the human toll.

Julie Griffith spent the morning trying to put the burned-out pieces of her life together. She lost it all: her tent, clothes, even her cane. She did find her hearing aid kit, still intact.

"And all the supplies it's all still here thank goodness," she said.

What little remains of her possessions, her opinion of the homeless issue remains strong.

"What are we gonna do? I mean, we have no place to go," she said.

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