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La Plata County Sheriff’s Office temporarily relocating homeless camp

Decision comes after small fire on Tuesday
The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office will relocate homeless residents to a temporary camp starting in May after a small fire Tuesday afternoon in the homeless camp north of the Tech Center.

The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office will temporarily relocate campers after a small fire started Tuesday afternoon in the homeless camp north of the Durango Tech Center.

Firefighters with Durango Fire Protection District doused the flames, which started in a rotted log in the camp, according to a county news release.

The Sheriff’s Office will start to move homeless residents the week of May 1 to a county-owned parcel clear of vegetation about 200 yards northeast of the current camp.

“It is at the end of an access road, so in terms of fire danger and emergency response, the new camp is considerably safer,” said county spokeswoman Megan Graham.

Graham said there are 38 camps with about 50 people at the current location.

The Sheriff’s Office and Axis Health System will assist homeless residents with check-in at the new location, and assign them spots to pitch tents.

According to the release, the new location will serve as a temporary camp until the city of Durango establishes an alternative location for homeless residents to sleep.

Durango City Council approved an emergency ordinance earlier this month to direct staff members to set up a place for homeless people to stay adjacent to the Durango Dog Park. Those who stay at the new site near Lightner Creek will have to pack up their belongings every morning.

The decision came in response to the safety concerns of residents on the west side of town and to help mitigate fire danger.

However, questions about the health risks of camping overnight on a former uranium mill site remain unanswered.

Sheriff Sean Smith did not return calls seeking comment about the temporary camp and relocation of campers.

mrupani@durangoherald.com

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