A homeless encampment in the Tijuana River canal was set ablaze on Friday, February 18, as rains began to fall at around 3 p.m.
The fire seemed to be the work of authorities, as the burning was observed by officers in several police vehicles parked in the canal. No attempt was made to put out the blaze, which engulfed three encampment areas spread out where the river bends northwesterly toward the Tijuana estuary.
The numerous shacks were constructed of the tires, planks, and tarps that frequently drift downstream. The few homeless persons in the area were clustered beneath the pedestrian bridge as they sought shelter from the downpour. Thick, gray smoke from the fires drifted up into the lead-colored skies as cold winds swirled through the canal and rain pelted the fire sites.
Tijuana police had taken to regularly raiding the encampments, often a refuge for criminals.