Homeless encampment fire burns belongings of nearby single mother's home

A  single mother in Oakland tells KTVU that for years, she's been concerned that a homeless encampment behind her yard would cause a fire. And this week, it happened.

"I can't believe this ...all my stuff," said Nailah Franklin as she showed a KTVU crew the damage the fire caused. It burned a shed and all the contents inside.  

She said she teaches science at an elementary school in Oakland and that the shed is where she stores her supplies and baby shower gifts for the daughter she's expecting next month. 

"All  of that is gone. It all started from this homeless encampment behind here," said Franklin.  

The homeless encampment butts up to her property near the High Street onramp to Interstate 580.

Franklin says she put up a new chain link fence after the fire burned down the wood fence Tuesday afternoon.

From her backyard, a propane tank and a small portable stove can be seen at the encampment. 

"The fire investigator came out and did a look-around and did a report and came up with the same conclusion, that it looks like a homeless encampment. They were cooking and it started the fire," said Captain Ken Cuneo with the Oakland Fire Department.   

Captain Cuneo has been with the department for 28 years and he responded to Tuesday's fire. He said the city started tracking fires at homeless encampments last September and that crews routinely respond to a handful of  homeless encampment fires each week.   

"Since September 2017, we've had 264 calls for homeless encampment fires. One hundred and thirty six of those have turned into actual confirmed fires. It's an alarming number for us," said Captain Cuneo.  
Nailah Franklin says she and her 14-year-old son were not home when the fire broke out. 

Smoke billowed over the area. Her brother shot cell phone video of firefighters responding. 

Her son's  trampoline burned, a gazebo is gone, and her car is damaged. She says she does not have renter's insurance. 

Franklin says she's complained to city officials numerous times about the hazard the homeless encampment poses. 

"This is not fair anymore. It's sadder and sadder and people like me who go to work and pay taxes are being put out on the street because of stuff like this. I have a 14 year-old and I'm expecting. What am I  supposed to do now?" said Franklin.  

She said the smell of smoke inside her home has led her and her son to stay with relatives for now. She has rented this home for seven years with hopes of buying it for her expanding family. 

Now, she's not sure if she'll stay.

She hopes her situation will encourage city leaders to do more to house the homeless.