Crews Battling Brush Fire Exposed to Human Feces, Potentially Hep A

Homeless people have been using the stream near the encampment

A fire in a Spring Valley homeless encampment has exposed firefighters to human feces and potentially Hepatitis A, according to San Miguel Fire.

The fire started around 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning at Spring Canyon Drive off I-125.

San Miguel Fire, San Diego Fire-Rescue, Bonita Fire and Heartland Fire all responded.

The fire was maintained at one acre, but the homeless people who live in the encampment have been using the stream nearby.

"The homeless population use this stream for what most of us use toilets our sinks or showers and bathtubs," San Miguel Fire Battalion Chief Andy Lawler, said. 

The area near the stream was slippery, causing firefighters to slip and potentially expose themselves to the disease.

The county has talked about putting portable bathrooms and wash stations in the area but have not done so yet. 

"This is one of the homeless encampments that we have been trying to deal with over the years," Malcolm Gettmann, president of the local homeowners association told NBC 7. Gettmann has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years.

Hepatitis A is not a typical vaccination for firefighters to get for their job.

City and county Hazmat were called to the scene, but much of the feces still needs to be cleaned up. 

"We're not talking about a small amount of contaminants there, we're talking about a lot,” Lawler said. "We had feces on the personal protective equipment."

It was recommended that the exposed firefighters use soap, water and bleach to clean themselves.

"We did soap and water at the scene ... [We] also have a hose,” he said.

In total, 11 firefighters were potentially exposed.

One firefighter who fell was taken to the hospital with minor injuries but was released later Sunday. 

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