TOPEKA (KSNT) – A fire near the Interstate-70 bridge has drawn attention to the issue of homeless camps in Topeka.

Topeka firefighters had to put out a fire on April 19 at a small homeless camp which has since been abandoned. The fire left burn marks and trash scattered around the nearby area.

A photo of the homeless camp fire under I-70. (Photo Courtesy/Ray Gager)

KSNT 27 News spoke with the Topeka Rescue Mission about the fire. They indicated homeless people scattered after the city cleared out a large camp in North Topeka on April 5.

“There’s not that same camp that’s picked up and went somewhere else together, so there is a bit of a scattering, but most of them didn’t scatter too far away… Some of them moved to the south side of the river, but they kinda stay close to the river,” said Barry Feaker, Executive Director of the Topeka Rescue Mission.

The City of Topeka cleared out the homeless camp known as Tent City for health and safety hazard concerns.

“There’s no doubt that the reasoning behind this was about care and safety for the people who were outdoors, not just because it didn’t look good,” “There were issues there of fire safety, biological hazards, those kinds of things that nobody wants to get sick and nobody wants to get injured or killed.”

The Topeka Rescue Mission offers supplies and shelter to the homeless, but also tries to help campers in ways like keeping campsites safe and moving them when the river rises.