A sleeping bag can be seen near the burn on Saunders Meadow on June 19.
Photo by Steven King

The Riverside Sheriff’s Department, Idyllwild Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the County Fire Department are holding a community meeting at 10 a.m., Monday, July 9 at the Idyllwild Fire Station.

Law enforcement and fire officials plan to discuss the risk and threat of fires on the Hill from people camping in unauthorized areas within the local forest.

“There is risk to public safety from camp fires in unauthorized areas given the current forest conditions,” said Lt. Zach Hall of the Sheriff’s Hemet Station.

Two recent fires, and perhaps more, may have been caused by inadvertent campfires.

Hall and the fire officials would like to discuss efforts to help the homeless, who are in the Idyllwild area. Some assistance may contribute to the risk of fire.

For example, offering a homeless person food, such as raw meat, which has to be cooked, requires a fire. Left unattended, this fire might spread. Hall stressed that he is trying to offer the homeless services available through County agencies.

“The IFPD, RVC Fire / Cal Fire and USFS, in conjunction with the Sheriff are working cooperatively to reduce the fire danger to the Hill,” wrote Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz. “One part of this effort is reaching out to the homeless population in the area to identify potential risks, identifying hazardous behaviors that could lead to a threatening wildland fire while educating and connecting individuals to needed services.”

Homelessness is not a crime, but sometimes this behavior can increase the risk of fire. The Sheriff’s Department does have a “Homeless Outreach Team,” which offers a variety of services, including rooms and apartments to the homeless within Riverside County.

Hall and fire officials want to offer suggestions on how assistance can be shared without creating a fire threat.