The Santa Monica Fire Department responded to a call around 10:50 a.m. for a brush fire on the south side of the I-10 freeway by Lincoln Blvd. and Olympic Blvd, according to fire officials.
“We responded to a report of a vegetation fire on the side of the freeway, it was just past the Lincoln off ramp and ended up being about an acre worth of brush, palm tree, and trash that was burning,” said Battalion Chief, John Nevandro. “It took us four engines and a battalion chief to put it out. We were on scene for about an hour cleaning up.”
The I-10 was temporarily closed to westbound traffic between Lincoln Blvd. and the incline. The SMFD advised people avoid the area due to traffic and potential hazards. The SMPD, California Highway Patrol, and California Department of Transportation helped with traffic control and brush clearance.
At 1:38 p.m. the City reported that the situation was all clear and normal activity could be resumed.
The SMFD did not discover a cause of the fire, but it was noted that the fire originated nearby a large homeless encampment. As no structures or people were harmed the department will not devote further time to investigating a cause, according to Nevandro.
Encampment fires are common in Santa Monica and typically small in size, according to Nevandro. For example, firefighters responded to one near 11th St. and Olympic Blvd. on Sunday Nov. 15.
SMFD currently has two fire inspector positions vacant due to the City’s ongoing COVID-19 cost cutting measures. In ordinary times the fire prevention division has seven members capable of investigating fires.
“It’s a small pool of people so as you can imagine, in a 24/7 period with trash fires, encampment fires, structure fires etc. a reduction of people available in fire prevention, such as the two fire inspectors currently vacant since April, places more strain on the city’s ability to get people out to investigate multiple fires,” said Dom Bei, president of Santa Monica Firefighters, Local 1109.