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Caltrans to close troubled homeless encampment in West Oakland following fire

CBS News Live
CBS News Bay Area Live

OAKLAND – Caltrans announced Friday that they are shutting down a homeless encampment near the MacArthur Maze in West Oakland due to ongoing safety concerns and a large fire that tore through the site earlier this week.

The agency said notices were being posted at the encampment on Wood Street on Friday. Agency officials said the closure would begin in phases starting next Wednesday, with the goal to close the entire encampment by the first week of August.

An estimated 200 people live at the encampment.

"The department is taking this action to address the increasingly serious safety risks to life, property and infrastructure at the encampment, including from the fire this week that prompted the closure of the MacArthur Maze," officials said in a statement.

On Monday, a two-alarm fire swept through the encampment, burning multiple vehicles, RVs and debris. Several explosions also took place, including the explosion of propane and acetylene cylinders.

Scene of encampment fire near 34th and Wood streets in West Oakland on July 11, 2022. Oakland Fire Department

There were no reports of injuries in Monday's fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The area has been the scene of multiple encampment fires in recent months, including a fire in April that killed a person.

Caltrans said it is coordinating with the city of Oakland and Alameda County for the people living at the encampment to have access to shelter beds offered and provided by local partners. Additional rooms are expected to be made available later this summer.

Meanwhile, the city is building a 100-bed community cabin village nearby at Wood and 26th streets. The village is being built with a $4.7 million grant.

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