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San Diego River neighbors worry about homeless fires

1985 Mission Valley destruction cited

"We need to place individuals into shelters and/or housing."
"We need to place individuals into shelters and/or housing."

On September 3, Patricia Fillét said she and her Old Town neighbors smelled and saw smoke billowing atop the Morena Boulevard and I-8 interchange. They logged onto the NextDoor and Citizen apps to warn each other — as they grew worrisome about the fire causing the smoke; homeless people living on and by the riverbed; record high temperatures; lack of water in the nearby San Diego River surrounded by dry brush and weeds. They called the fire department.

"The Citizen app suggested the fire in the San Diego River [area was] an encampment fire started just after 3 pm," Fillét posted on NextDoor. Another person, who lived uphill from Fashion Valley, added, "[I was] driving westbound on the 8 freeway, and the Morena Boulevard exit was closed as well as Rosecrans. [So] I thought maybe it was a fatality because there were so many firemen and policemen and [a] helicopter .... "

"Even though this is considered a river, we are in a third-year drought and nearly in fire season all year long," Fillét explained to me on September 11. "I'm not sure if you've taken a walk down to the San Diego River, but you can certainly see from Pacific Highway at the Ocean Beach bike trail entry point — the burn areas, encampments, trash debris, abandoned shopping carts, and other biological hazards."

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Fillét, now retired, is a lifelong San Diegan and part of the Old Town Community Planning Group. The group meets monthly and speaks on the goings-on in the area. Lately, Fillét has monitored the fires around Presidio Park and across the I-8 freeway along the San Diego River in the last few months. Along the riverbed, she concentrates on the westernmost section where the San Diego River discharges into the Pacific Ocean. She monitors the riverbed inland underneath the Morena and I-8 interchange, where she and her neighbors saw the smoke and even further eastbound as the river flows feet away from the Fashion Valley mall's lower parking structure.

She continued: "The fires and encampments are more than unhealthy and unsafe for individuals experiencing homelessness." Then there are the nearby homes and businesses which can catch on fire too. Those who live in homes surrounding Mission Valley often speak of the 1985 fire, which at the time was the worst brush fire in the history of San Diego. Just east of the two malls in Mission Valley a fire fueled by heavy brush and powerful winds spread through a series of Mission Valley canyons and climbed into the Normal Heights neighborhoods. The fire burned 300 acres, destroyed 76 homes, and damaged 57 others.

In 2022, Fillét warns of other dangers lurking within Mission Valley.

"We strongly support that anyone who uses the public domain of rivers, parks, and canyons should be able to do so without fear and intimidation from encampments, illicit activities, graffiti, [which] we witness while using this area," she added.

On two Yelp pages, the San Diego River Bicycle and Pedestrian Path and the San Diego River — they both score an average of three out of five. Reviewers forewarn visitors about the homeless people who live by the river.

On the morning of August 18, just north of the San Diego River by Friars and Napa, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department extinguished a brush fire and discovered "what appeared to be a deceased female on the ground," reads an SDPD report. "Due to the suspicious nature of the fire and the death of the female, detectives from the San Diego Police Homicide Unit and the Metro Arson Strike Team [also] responded to the location and assumed responsibility for the investigation." No updates were posted online.

On August 22, just four days after the mysterious death and fire, in the same vicinity closer to the riverbed, Fillét recounted seeing "smoke in the afternoon and first responders at Friars and Morena."

Fillét: "We realize many individuals are experiencing traumas. And we as a community have a responsibility to find solutions together to help alleviate suffering. However, we need to no longer accept 'no' as an answer. We need to place individuals into shelters and/or housing to begin the stability to begin their lives with healthier opportunities."

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"We need to place individuals into shelters and/or housing."
"We need to place individuals into shelters and/or housing."

On September 3, Patricia Fillét said she and her Old Town neighbors smelled and saw smoke billowing atop the Morena Boulevard and I-8 interchange. They logged onto the NextDoor and Citizen apps to warn each other — as they grew worrisome about the fire causing the smoke; homeless people living on and by the riverbed; record high temperatures; lack of water in the nearby San Diego River surrounded by dry brush and weeds. They called the fire department.

"The Citizen app suggested the fire in the San Diego River [area was] an encampment fire started just after 3 pm," Fillét posted on NextDoor. Another person, who lived uphill from Fashion Valley, added, "[I was] driving westbound on the 8 freeway, and the Morena Boulevard exit was closed as well as Rosecrans. [So] I thought maybe it was a fatality because there were so many firemen and policemen and [a] helicopter .... "

"Even though this is considered a river, we are in a third-year drought and nearly in fire season all year long," Fillét explained to me on September 11. "I'm not sure if you've taken a walk down to the San Diego River, but you can certainly see from Pacific Highway at the Ocean Beach bike trail entry point — the burn areas, encampments, trash debris, abandoned shopping carts, and other biological hazards."

Sponsored
Sponsored

Fillét, now retired, is a lifelong San Diegan and part of the Old Town Community Planning Group. The group meets monthly and speaks on the goings-on in the area. Lately, Fillét has monitored the fires around Presidio Park and across the I-8 freeway along the San Diego River in the last few months. Along the riverbed, she concentrates on the westernmost section where the San Diego River discharges into the Pacific Ocean. She monitors the riverbed inland underneath the Morena and I-8 interchange, where she and her neighbors saw the smoke and even further eastbound as the river flows feet away from the Fashion Valley mall's lower parking structure.

She continued: "The fires and encampments are more than unhealthy and unsafe for individuals experiencing homelessness." Then there are the nearby homes and businesses which can catch on fire too. Those who live in homes surrounding Mission Valley often speak of the 1985 fire, which at the time was the worst brush fire in the history of San Diego. Just east of the two malls in Mission Valley a fire fueled by heavy brush and powerful winds spread through a series of Mission Valley canyons and climbed into the Normal Heights neighborhoods. The fire burned 300 acres, destroyed 76 homes, and damaged 57 others.

In 2022, Fillét warns of other dangers lurking within Mission Valley.

"We strongly support that anyone who uses the public domain of rivers, parks, and canyons should be able to do so without fear and intimidation from encampments, illicit activities, graffiti, [which] we witness while using this area," she added.

On two Yelp pages, the San Diego River Bicycle and Pedestrian Path and the San Diego River — they both score an average of three out of five. Reviewers forewarn visitors about the homeless people who live by the river.

On the morning of August 18, just north of the San Diego River by Friars and Napa, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department extinguished a brush fire and discovered "what appeared to be a deceased female on the ground," reads an SDPD report. "Due to the suspicious nature of the fire and the death of the female, detectives from the San Diego Police Homicide Unit and the Metro Arson Strike Team [also] responded to the location and assumed responsibility for the investigation." No updates were posted online.

On August 22, just four days after the mysterious death and fire, in the same vicinity closer to the riverbed, Fillét recounted seeing "smoke in the afternoon and first responders at Friars and Morena."

Fillét: "We realize many individuals are experiencing traumas. And we as a community have a responsibility to find solutions together to help alleviate suffering. However, we need to no longer accept 'no' as an answer. We need to place individuals into shelters and/or housing to begin the stability to begin their lives with healthier opportunities."

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