DENVER (KDVR) — At the intersection of West Mexico Avenue and South Acoma Street in Denver, a burned up trailer is all that remains from a Tuesday night fire.
Video from a nearby business shows a homeless encampment bursting into flames, as people scampered to escape.
“I had said that place is going to go up like a Christmas tree,” says Kasina Swartz. “And when I arrived and saw the entire thing in rubble, I was just in shock.”
Swartz manages Dependable Cleaners, a dry cleaning business just feet from where that fire happened.
She installed security cameras in January to monitor the camp.
“We had to put it up because they were using our trash area as a bathroom,” she says. “This was not an ordinary situation. This was a situation that was escalating right from day one.”
Records from the Denver Fire Department show this to be a recurring issue in Denver, with 36 fires extinguished at homeless camps in just the past month.
Firefighters say they found multiple aerosol cans and propane torches at the Acoma Street fire, but have yet to determine a cause.
Swartz says it’s been a frustrating situation from the start. She’s the director of Coats for Colorado, and says she’s offered resources multiple times to this particular group.
“I could see that they were struggling, I could see that, and my first instinct was to offer help,” she says. “Every time when they were offered help and assistance, [they] denied it, did not want it.”
Swartz says businesses in the area have been concerned about an explosion for a few weeks.
“They have just as much concern, they have just as much at stake as I do,” she says, “I knew those propane tanks were certainly something that was cause for concern.”