San Francisco neighborhood concerned after power lines pose potential fire hazard

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Sounding the alarm about a potential fire hazard on a city street right here in the Bay Area.

One resident says he has been living in fear for several months. He wants the city to do something to make the neighborhood safe.

A photo shows someone who appears to be accessing electricity from an underground power source.

“The concern is the entire block will go up and it is going to go through the homeless residents in the alley and go from building to building to building,” Stephen Butler said.

Before that happens, Stephen Butler says he wants to do everything he can to bring attention to what he believes is a major fire hazard on Olive Street between Polk and Van Ness in San Francisco.

“That combination of cooking, lighters, stove tops, duraflame logs plus multiple power lines going across the street, going up and down the block, spliced into each other is just tremendously fearful,” Butler said.

He says the number of unsheltered residents here has grown  in recent months

“What we’ve noticed is because of the access to power, it has increased access to this particular alley,” Butler said. “We have people coming other locations charging their equipment, bringing in their cooking equipment, doing those activities because of the ready access to power. You getting more and more people in this small area doing the same activity.”

A representative of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness said one reason for this is the lack of available options for charging laptops and cellphones because public spaces like libraries and drop ins being closed due to COVID-19.

“There are way too many people living in our sidewalks, streets and alleys during this during this pandemic,” San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney said.

However, Haney says the city homeless streets operation center is making progress

“They’ve cut the number of tents in the Tenderloin in half just in the last two weeks. Getting hundreds of people into hotels,” he said. “When I saw the photo, I reached out to the department of homelessness who said they will go over there early next week to clear the area.”

San Francisco Police Department sent a statement that reads, in part:

“The SFPD HSOC unit who handles homeless issues such as the one mentioned appreciates the community bringing this issue to our attention. We are sending officers out to the location to investigate the illegal tapping of electricity on olive street. We will notify the appropriate city partners (PUC, SFFD, etc.) of any hazards we find as well as extend resources the city is providing to our homeless residents.”

Butler says until the electricity issue is cleared it will continue to be hard to sleep at night.

“Like I said, all of us go to bed wondering is this the night we’re going to hear sirens?” Butler said.

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