Trailer village dreams dead for now | Photos: Andrew Goff

UPDATE, 2:50 p.m.:

The Eureka Police Department shared the following statement:

This is an ongoing investigation. Upon a determination made by the fire inspector as to the origin of the fire, as per the press release likely human caused, we will take an arson report. There is no information at this time to show that the fire, if determined to be human caused, was set intentionally simply because the trailers were to be used to shelter houseless community members.

UPDATE, 2:04 p.m.:

The following is a press release from Humboldt Bay Fire:

At 12:22 A.M. four units from Humboldt Bay Fire were dispatched to a reported structure fire at the Foot of Hilfiker Lane in Eureka. While units were enroute, Humboldt Bay Fire Dispatch received additional reports that multiple large trailers were on fire. The first arriving Humboldt Bay Fire Engine arrived on scene and found six wood-framed single-wide portable construction type trailers fully involved with fire with additional nearby trailers burning on the outside from radiant heat.

The initial Company Officer requested a second alarm and declared that the fire was a defensive operation. Additional responding units had their access hindered by passers-by in vehicles and motorhomes driving in to watch the operations. Eureka Police Officers were requested to control traffic to allow access for emergency apparatus only. As additional units arrived, personnel checked the nearby trailers for any occupants. Once the trailers were confirmed unoccupied, multiple master streams were put in to place. Fire personnel had the fire controlled within an hour. Pacific Gas and Electric was requested to respond to confirm that the nearby utility poles and electrical lines were not damaged.

The fire is under investigation but appears to be human-caused as there were no electrical or gas services to any of the trailers. Humboldt Bay Fire would like to thank their allied emergency partners for their assistance: Arcata Fire Protection District, Blue Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Eureka Police Department, City Ambulance, and Pacific Gas and Electric. There were no injuries to fire personnel or civilians, nor any damage to the residence located next to the trailers or the Humboldt Bay Fire Training Center.

The 11 modular trailers were originally donated by PG&E for a Betty Chin Housing project in 2017, six of the 11 trailers were destroyed in the fire and the other 5 were damaged. The trailers will be demolished and removed from the site due to the safety hazard they present. This will not prevent the project from moving forward as the City of Eureka has secured State funding to purchase new trailers for Betty’s housing project at the site. Unfortunately, it won’t allow for the trailers to be donated for reuse as planned. Infrastructure development is planned for the site on the Crawley property in the near future.

For further information regarding the fire incident please call 441-4000; for further information regarding the Betty Chin Housing project please call City Manager Miles Slattery at 441-4184.


Original Post:

Large machinery could be seen clearing charred debris Thursday morning after at least six of the 11 PG&E trailers donated to the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation to help folks struggling to find housing were destroyed in a fire at the foot of Hilfiker Lane in Eureka.

“I feel like I broke my promise to PG&E and our community,” Chinn told the Outpost this morning. “I went over there this morning and it was really emotional. We’ve been working on this for the last four or five years and now it’s gone. I feel really bad.”

The cause of the fire and the extent of the damage remains unclear. At least six trailers were completely destroyed in the early morning blaze, she said, but the smoke damage could render the remaining trailers useless. No one was injured and there are no suspects at this time. 

Location of the now-destroyed trailers

The housing project was proposed back in 2017 when PG&E agreed to donate 12 trailers to Chinn’s foundation to be converted into modular housing units. The trailers were placed on the Crowley site and have been sitting vacant for years while the City of Eureka worked through the necessary steps to allow for a housing development on the site.

The Eureka City Council voted unanimously to adopt the Coastal Development Permit needed for the site almost exactly one year ago but there were still a handful of improvements required for the property before the trailers could be lived in.

The Outpost reached out to the Eureka Police Department and Humboldt Bay Fire seeking additional information. We will update when we hear back.



Videos of last night’s blaze from Redheaded Blackbelt