PORTLAND, Ore. (NewsNation Now) — After record-setting heat and a fire season that has torched millions of acres nationwide, the city of Portland plans to prohibit people from camping in forested areas of the city.
The intention is to to protect individuals experiencing homelessness and nearby homeowners and renters from the dangers of wildfires.
The City Council approved the new rule Wednesday, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees the Fire Bureau, also urged the council to direct the fire marshal to find ways to lessen fire threats in hopes of reducing occurrences.
The city will work to relocate homeless people camping in high-risk fire areas during wildfire season or whenever a burn ban is declared by the Multnomah County Fire Defense Board.
Portland’s has a multiple parks that are considered high-risk hazard zones, from Forest Park and the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area to Linnton Park, Marquam Nature Park, River View Natural Area and others.
Workers from homeless outreach groups will notify campers about the fire rules and hazards and help them relocate voluntarily, according to Portland Fire Marshal Kari Schimel. The work will be very similar to that done related to the pandemic and to vaccine availability efforts.
“This feels so intrinsic to our work now when we think about public health communications, it makes sense that fire safety communications are now part of that,” Kaia Sand, Street Roots director, said.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.