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Officials order campers to vacate dangerous areas


By Phil Gomez

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    SANTA CRUZ, California (KSBW) — In Santa Cruz on Thursday, firefighters and police continued their sweeps through campsites that are located in six open space areas within the city.

Campers were ordered to move out because of the high risk of fire danger and the risk from campfires.

The fire crew quickly put out the small fire that was burning outside a tent and a police officer cited the woman for deliberate negligence and burning. The charge is a misdemeanor and carries a stay-away order from the Sycamore Grove area.

There was dry brush around the woman’s tent and wood to feed a fire.

“Going undetected this fire could have sparked into the surrounding brush and slowly spread until it got out of control. Thankfully, this corridor we do have early detection by residents and people that are passing by,” said Rob Oatey, Santa Cruz Fire Division Chief.

“Today we’re just outreaching. Next week we’re going to come back,” said Tim Shields, Santa Cruz Deputy Fire Marshal.

About half of the 50 people who received notification have moved on. There are a handful of campers located off the hilly trails that criss-cross in Sycamore Grove.

On this day, they were again being notified that they had to move out.

“I haven’t been able to make any progress. We’ve had a little bit of a kind of a signal crossing,” camper Kathryn Louise Lichti said.

“My Friends suppose to come today with his truck but he’s been telling me that the last couple of days,” camper John Surfield said.

Twenty-three citations for failure to comply have also been issued. Most of them are in Sycamore Grove and the Pogonip areas.

The sycamore grove Pogonip areas remain problematic for firefighters. They’ll be hiking through the forest for the weeks to come”

“It has direct access to a lot of services so we find most of our unhoused community in this area,” Oatey said.

While hiking on a trail, crews hear what sounds like a .22 gun fired. An armed officer joined us as a precaution but nothing more became of it.

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