Clean-up crews removed over 100 tons of trash from a massive homeless camp in North Austin days after fires broke out in the area.
On Wednesday, Austin city resource crews announced they’d completed a days-long effort to remove trash from a subterranean homeless encampment.
According to Fox 7 Austin, the three municipal organizations involved in the cleanup reported picking up “approximately over 100 tons of trash from the site,” with one unit, Austin Resource Recovery, pointing out they focused on cleaning up 30 tons of mainly used tires due to their fire risk.
The effort comes in the wake of a fire that closed highway 183 last week on February 20, and another fire earlier this month at the exact same location on February 3.
When crews responded to the first fire, they found a massive underground network of homeless camps the size of three football fields containing anywhere from 50 to 100 people.
A homeless camp located near Highway 183 and Anderson Lane was recently cleared and according to city resource officials over 100 tons of trash has been removed from the site. https://t.co/najVOOl6Dk
— FOX 7 Austin (@fox7austin) February 26, 2020
Following the first fire, crews stated they had to remove loads of trash and debris, including hundreds of needles, from the location before being able to access the area.
“There’s tunnels, there’s everything,” Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Matt Cox told local media. “They euphemistically call it the catacombs because it’s so dark and kind of creepy.”
“You don’t know what’s in these piles, whether it be propane tanks, rodents that are ready to jump out and bite you, needles you can step on, just a ton of stuff that makes it more dangerous than a regular house fire,” he said.
“Normally we’d be able to put out fires pretty quickly because we’re used to house fires and getting in there,” Cox said. “This is a much more dangerous situation. We had to go down into a creek bed, underneath the bridge. There’s literally hundreds of needles on the ground. There’s trash, there’s couches, propane tanks, generators.”
The massive cleanup comes as the city struggles to cope with a growing number of homeless residents following the Austin City Council’s passage of a controversial camping ordinance.
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