One of the fires was at the state homeless camp located at 780 Bastrop Highway. Crews responded at around 4:22 a.m. and found four of the 11 units in an old storage building there on fire. Crews were able to get the fire under control in about 15 minutes. Officials believe the cause of the fire could be electrical.
Another fire in a homeless camp along Lady Bird Lake at West Cesar Chavez and Colorado spread to the nearby Buford Fire Tower. Damage to the tower is estimated at $12,000.
AFD says it's responded to eight camps in 24 hours, including one in the 5900 block of Riverside and one in the 400 block of I-35, for violation of open burning guidelines.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a statement to FOX 7 Austin when asked about the fires saying, "If that same fire happens in the woods to those we've forced to go back, as some are asking, people may well die. This fire was horrible, as was the one last night at the Governor’s Camp Esperanza. Let’s get people out of tents everywhere. Let's actually get people housed, not just hide them."
Adler issued a longer statement later Friday, saying:
"The Buford Tower fire last night was horrible, heartbreaking. The fire last night at the Governor’s Camp Esperanza encampment in East Austin was horrible and risked residents’ lives. If these same fires happen in the woods to those we might force to go back, as some are asking, people may well die.
"Let’s get people out of tents everywhere. Let's actually get people housed, not just hide them. We can’t go back to the failed policies of the past that we know don’t work, like criminalizing homelessness and putting people in jail or giving them fines and tickets for being without homes.
"But we have to do better than we are doing with the encampments we all see. The Council is stepping forward, and so is the community, with a new direction a real plan to meet the challenge of homelessness. This is the work we need to do."