Warming shelters remain open in Fresno County amid cold temperatures

Kate Nemarich Image
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Warming shelters remain open in Fresno County amid cold temperatures
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While freeze warnings are over for now, the cold overnight temperatures still raise some safety concerns.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- While freeze warnings are over for now, the cold overnight temperatures still raise some safety concerns. Fire officials are among those encouraging people who are unhoused to take advantage of those options rather than making their own fires for warmth.

"Temporary shelters or bedding that can possibly catch fire, burn injuries," said Jonathan Lopez, Fresno Fire Department. "Oftentimes they're burning things that put off toxic smoke."

Lopez said fortunately they've seen significantly fewer fires this year than during the same time last year. He pointed to the recent rains as a possible reason. He said they try to educate the public on the risks of warming fires, but mainly encourage people to seek shelter instead.

"We really sympathize with the plight of the unhoused population and we that hope in their effort to keep warm they make use of the facilities and charities that provide shelter for them and also the warming shelters the city has set up," said Lopez.

The Fresno Mission's warming center is one of the options available when temperatures drop below 35 degrees. CEO Matthew Dildine said they're seeing increased need matching pre-pandemic levels.

"During Covid there were more resources available, those resources are now gone," said Dildine. "Coupled with the fact there's just a lot of things in the economy. A lot of those rent protection things are ending. "

With the end of social distancing restrictions, Dildine said they're able to use more of their campus to offer shelter for the night.

Meanwhile, city-run warming centers are open every night through January 31st.

PARCS Director Aaron Aguirre said they have been full each night for the past few weeks welcoming people and pets into their shelters.

"In years past we've seen attendance, but not at the levels we're seeing now," said Aguirre.

Even with high attendance, Aguirre said they won't turn people away at city warming centers.

"When they do fill up though folks are still welcomed in, they may just not have a cot," said Aguirre. "They will have seating areas."

City-run warming shelters open at 6 p.m. The Pinedale opens at 7 p.m.

For those who need a ride to the shelters, the city buses can be used for free.

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