san fernando valley

Grenade Found as Crews Clean Out Sepulveda Basin Homeless Encampment

The cleanup was planned before a 10-acre brush fire last week that started in the homeless encampment

As crews began clearing out a homeless encampment Monday morning where a fire spread to brush last week in the San Fernando Valley, the discovery of a grenade sparked a brief scare. 

The cleanup, already planned before Tuesday's fire in the Sepulveda Basin area, began at about 7 a.m. Aerial video showed cleanup crews at a staging area.

An inert grenade, incapable of exploding, was discovered mixed in with homeless people's belongings.

The discovery set the cleanup back a few hours while experts determined the device was not going to explode.

The 10-acre brush fire forced a closure on the nearby Metro Orange Line busway. Burbank Boulevard between Balboa Boulevard and the 405 Freeway was temporarily shut down.

No injuries were reported.

The fire burned brush and left behind the charred remains at the homeless encampment near Victory Boulevard. Grills, tents, devices hooked up to solar panels, bikes, clothing, shopping carts and other items were found in the encampment.

A man leaving early Monday with a shopping cart full of items said he plans to return after the clearout. 

"I'm going to stay right here, they can't move me," he said. "I'm solid like a rock."

The fire started in the encampment, but the cause remains under investigation.

A man who lives there, only identified as Chula, said no one is allowed back into the encampment, and now they are left to wander the streets.

"The crime rates are gonna go up, because people are gonna become desperate," he said.

The map below, illustrating fires that started at homeless encampments in 2018, shows just how widespread the problem is in Los Angeles County. You can zoom in on the map to see how big the problem is in your neighborhood or near where you work.

Gordon Tokumatsu contributed to this report. 

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