Over 1,000 Fires Started by Dallas Homeless

Fire near a Toyota dealership started by homeless | Image by Collin Pruett/The Dallas Express

Dallas firefighters responded to 1,206 trash fires in 2022, according to data provided to The Dallas Express by Dallas Fire-Rescue (DFR).

So far in 2023, the frequency of trash fires has surpassed the same period from 2022, with 280 through March 23.

In 2022, DFR responded to an average of 3.3 trash fires per day, compared with an average of 3.4 per day this year.

Trash fires can range from bonfires to small, campfire-sized blazes, which are frequently used to keep Dallas’ growing homeless population warm during winter months.

DFR provided a statement to The Dallas Express highlighting the unseen dangers of trash fires.

“While trash fires don’t typically cause much harm, their proximity to structures and other combustibles can make them more dangerous than anticipated,” reads the statement.

Studies also show the damaging health impacts of burning trash openly. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has published information outlining the hazardous impact of trash fires on long-term health.

“Burning trash can cause long-term health problems. The toxic chemicals released during burning include nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and polycyclic organic matter (POMs). Burning plastic and treated wood also releases heavy metals and toxic chemicals, such as dioxin,” reads the statement.

“Other chemicals released while burning plastic include benzo(a)pyrene (BAP) and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have both been shown to cause cancer. If agricultural bags or containers are contaminated with pesticides or other harmful substances, those will also be released into the air,” it concludes.

Trash burning also significantly worsens air quality, according to a study conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“The study concluded that the [trash] fires produce emissions equivale­­­nt to as much as 29 percent of officially reported human-related global emissions of small particulates (less than 2.5 microns in diameter), as well as 10 percent of mercury and 64 percent of a group of gases known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These pollutants have been linked to such significant health impacts as decreased lung function, neurological disorders, cancer, and heart attacks,” the study claimed.

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1 Comment

  1. ThisGuyisTom

    I know about toxicity as it is my degree line. This is an important story by The Dallas Express.
    More than 3 trash fire responses per day! I’m floored…did not realize it was so bad.


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