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Investigation into deadly RV fire at SLO County's safe parking lot for homeless

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Posted at 3:19 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 20:40:41-05

New details are emerging following a deadly RV fire in San Luis Obispo.

CAL FIRE SLO responded to the call around 6:30 a.m. at the safe parking lot on Kansas Avenue. It's down the street from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office, just off of Highway 1.

CAL FIRE SLO says a woman believed to be in her 50s died in the RV fire along with several of her cats. The RV where the fire happened has since been towed as the investigation into this incident gets underway.

The fire agency tells KSBY that some of her friends tried to rescue her but were unsuccessful.

"Broke several windows out and attempted to put the fire out with fire extinguishers," said Captain Adan Orozco, CAL FIRE SLO Public Information Officer.

The Kansas Avenue safe parking site opened in mid-August, initially as a three-month pilot program.

"The purpose of it was to give people a safe place where they could park," said Jeff Al-Mashat, County of San Luis Obispo Program Manager. "Many of them were parking on city streets and the county wanted to address residents' concerns by giving people a place where they could safely and legally park."

Early on, only a handful of people were utilizing the site. But now, roughly six months later, 80 to 90 people are staying there each night.

"We were probably full around late December, early January," Al-Mashat said.

The county says people are able to stay while they're getting services and CAPSLO is going to provide those services full-time in late February, early March.

"Until then, we're allowing people to stay so that they have that safe place to be," Al-Mashat added.

He says the County Fire Marshal's office visited the site to give guidance on how to make it as safe as possible.

"So fire extinguishers are something that we installed and they are all around the site," Al-Mashat told KSBY.

We saw several fire extinguishers connected to fences. The County says they're placed every 100 feet or so.

Meanwhile, County Administrative Officer, Wade Horton has since released a statement saying, "A life lost in this manner is tragic. I understand from staff that she was a sweet woman who had a heart for animals. We are grateful crews were able to contain the flames to one unit but are heavy-hearted to hear about the fire and loss of a life."

During Tuesday morning's County Board of Supervisors meeting, there was a moment of silence for the victim. Supervisor Bruce Gibson also said that security footage will be reviewed. There are several cameras that are pointing directly at the RV that caught fire.

The victim's name has not yet been released. The cause of the fire is under investigation.