by Toni Barth
This is my first-hand account of the explosion, NOT just a firework*, that took place on August 28th. I do not believe it was anyone from the encampment that ignited it. The explosion shook my house and instantly erupted into flames. I called 911. It was an awful sight to see but not as awful as the sounds of screaming coming from the people in the encampment. They were clearly afraid for their lives. I called 911 a second time after about 20 minutes, due to no response. This was no random act. It was a calculated attempt to scare these people away. These individuals are vulnerable, unstable, and unsafe. They are being preyed upon, shot at, and used for lawless activities; because of drug addiction and mental health issues, they themselves are lawless. Living on the streets is the lowest possible existence, and the only way to elevate them from literally living in the dirt is to take this dwelling option off the table by passing Ordinance 818 tonight! It’s time to stop giving them handouts and start giving them a hand up! Thank you.
*Apparently, at the Sept. 11th meeting, Stephanie Mora commented on the explosion and fire and was told by another council member that it was “just a firework.” That really angered me!
I thought our speaking time would be reduced, so I did not elaborate on why it took over 20 minutes for the fire department to respond. I found out later that there had been reports of gunshots fired in the area prior to the explosion. Because of this, first responders were not allowed to enter. In addition to this, I was shocked that this incident was not being investigated, as if it was perfectly normal to have explosions and fires in our neighborhoods for no reason. I filed a formal request with the fire marshal on September 1st. The report came back as malicious mischief with fireworks as its origin. I commented that had this incident occurred just a few yards west of where it was, his crews would have been coming to the area on a rescue recovery mission and not just a brush fire. I asked that his department join the effort in helping get these individuals off the street.
After again reading my testimony, I wish I had added just one more bit. My last sentence should have read: “It’s time to stop giving them handouts that just help you sleep at night, and start giving them a hand up!”
Be that as it may. I appreciate your interest in what I had to say.