SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — So far, two fires in Sioux City were likely caused by homeless people living in abandoned/red tagged buildings this month.
As a result of temperatures getting colder, some homeless people look for temporary shelter in unoccupied buildings.
However, many of these buildings don’t have electricity. That means some homeless will use fire or other means necessary to stay warm. Lieutenant Joe Rodriguez with the Sioux City Fire Rescue (SCFR) said this sometimes results in the building catching fire, causing a new set of difficulties for the fire fighters.
“Normally a red tag fire we don’t know if there’s a person inside of it or not, so it’s important for our firefighters to understand there’s different hazards in each building. There might be holes in the floors, there might be holes in the walls, so there’s a challenge on the fire side of things once the fire spreads throughout the building,” said Lt. Rodriguez.
To prevent people from going in and out of boarded off buildings, property owners will cover windows and doors. However, Lt. Rodriguez said this doesn’t stop people from entering the buildings.
“Well, most of the time, most property owners board up the structures, but sometimes when desperate times need, people try to find a way to get outside of the temperature and find somewhere warm,” said Rodriguez.
Neighbors said they’ve seen people go in and out of the property often. Lt. Rodriguez said if Siouxlanders believe someone is living in an abandoned or red tagged building to call the city inspector and report what they saw.