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Safety measures added to SLO County Safe Parking Program after deadly fire on site

Up to 90 people stay at the 24-hour site in San Luis Obispo each night.
Rachel Showalter
Up to 90 people stay at the 24-hour site in San Luis Obispo each night.

The County of San Luis Obispo is implementing additional safety measures at the Kansas Avenue Safe Parking Facility in San Luis Obispo after a woman died there in an overnight RV Fire on Tuesday.

“The safety and care of the people is always our primary concern — that is it from day one," said County Homeless Services Division Program Manager Jeff Al-Mashat. "But certainly after an incident like yesterday, we review everything and we want to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can.”

Al-Mashat said up to 90 people stay at the 24-hour site each night. He said, although Tuesday’s death was a tragedy, the site’s vehicle spacing requirements prevented the situation from worsening.

“One of the positives that came out of it is no other RVs or vehicles caught on fire because of the measures that were taken there,” Al-Mashat said.

Al-Mashat said in addition to adequate vehicle spacing, fire extinguishers are also distanced about 100 feet apart from each other across the site.

He said, after the fire, the county ordered 20 new extinguishers that have already been delivered. The county also has extinguishers in reserve for use if necessary.

Al-Mashat said the county is working on providing a fire safety course for people at the safe parking site.

He said they will also be establishing a community messaging board that informs people about available resources.

“One of the key things it will have on there is fire safety guidelines for people who are living there and who are cooking there,” Al-Mashat said.

The Kansas Avenue site is the only county-run Safe Parking area. Other Safe Parking sites are operated next to the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum and at the 40 Prado Homeless Services Center.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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