DENVER — Bill Thompson reached out Denver7 about a growing colony of campers and RVs in the Goldsmith neighborhood in southeast Denver. He said he had concerns about safety. Weeks later, his fears became real.
"They're basically using camp stoves or something like that," said Thompson, talking about the propane tanks in plain sight being used to heat the campers.
Early Monday morning, a trailer parked on South Jasmine Street for months, went up in flames. The owner told Denver7 he turned the stove on late Sunday night to heat the inside. When he returned, his home was fully engulfed.
"We're quite concerned about what the dangers are surrounding their exposure to fire and the way that we would attack a fire," said Greg Pixley, a spokesman of the Denver Fire Department.
Pixley said the Denver Fire Department has seen a massive increase in calls about RVs using propane tanks to heat the inside. This year, they've confiscated 15,000 pounds (which is about 750, 20-pound tanks) of propane from living situations just like the one in the Goldsmith neighborhood.
"We have worked aggressively this year to ensure that we have removed as many of these tanks as possible to increase the safety of you, me, those that are around that are working every day, and for those people that are living in this environment," Pixley said.
A street over from Jasmine Street, on Warren Avenue , even more have set up camp. Neighbors and employees working in this business district say the crime here is getting worse, the longer they stay.
"I mean, I want to bring my clients to my office and it looks like I live in a war zone," said Keith Hann.
As we have reported in the past, a Denver ordinance states a RV more than 22 feet in length cannot be parked on the street for more than 24 hours. Many campers Denver7 spotted in this particular neighborhood were smaller. A city spokesperson tells us they plan to reach out to campers in the next few weeks to get them the services they need and if necessary, the city will perform a large-scale cleanup.
Next year, the city will also be spending $150,000 on a pilot Safe Outdoor Parking program to address this same issue. However, the city has not released specifics on when or where that will happen.