Homeless camp fires a concern as the weather grows colder

The cause of the fire burning near I-25 and MLK Bypass on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 (pictured above) remains under investigation, but it burned in an area known for its large homeless population.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A small grass fire burning in an area with a large homeless population is now under investigation.

The blaze sparked shortly after 6 Saturday morning near I-25 and the MLK Bypass. It was quickly extinguished -- but there is very real concern this is far from the last time a fire was start in this area.

We know from emergency crews that there were nearly 300 documented homeless camp fires in Colorado Springs in 2017. Though the cause of Saturday's fire remains under investigation, it started in an area known for its transient camps.

Unsurprisingly, firefighters say the number of homeless camp fires ticks up when the temperature drops. It's not uncommon for crews to respond to several in a single day. They're usually put out fast -- but firefighters have cautioned that these small fires are actually putting the city at large at great risk. All it takes is the wrong conditions -- gusty winds, exceptionally dry weather -- or the wrong location -- a fire last fall grew dangerously close to homes on the Springs' west side and forced a pre-evacuation -- and these seemingly small fires could be a catastrophe in waiting.

In February, officials told 11 News these fires are a problem without a clear answer.

"It's hard to regulate at this point, so the best thing we can do is try to get on them early when they're small, get them extinguished, and then hopefully they won't grow into a bigger problem," a firefighter told 11 News then.

Ten months later, it remains true.