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'It could've been terrible': Neighbors frustrated after fire comes dangerously close to homes

No homes were damaged by the fire. Neighbors are relieved, but frustrated.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Neighbors in Portland's Overlook neighborhood are calling for some sort of fire break on the hill below their homes, after a fire came dangerously close to their homes last week.

“It could’ve been terrible,” said Christian Trejbal, chair of the neighborhood association.

Trejbal said no homes were damaged by the flames.

“With these dry conditions, we’re really lucky this was caught quickly and the fire department responded fast,” he said.

Neighbors are relieved, but frustrated. They are all but certain they know who is to blame for the fire.

“There’s a lot of speculation it’s the homeless campers angry with the neighborhood for reporting them to the city for sweeps,” said Trejbal.

The homeless campers Trejbal’s referring to are not affiliated with the sanctioned Hazelnut Grove camp. Regardless of who or what is to blame, firefighters say neighbors can take matters into their own hands.

“Make sure you keep your area green. If you’re not able to do that or don’t want to water through the summertime, you can have different hard scapes,” said Lt. Tommy Schroeder of Portland Fire & Rescue.

It is good advice, but Trejbal and his neighbors do not think they should have to make sweeping changes to deal with problems they believe are perpetuated by the city.

“I think the city is turning a blind eye to illegal camping here,” said Trejbal. “If homes go up in flames they might be looking at a lawsuit from those owners.”