Neighbors blame homeless for Venice Canals fire that destroyed multiple homes




Multiple homes in the area of the Venice canals were destroyed this week in a massive fire, and community members are blaming the blaze on the local homeless population.

"It's pretty horrifying and I'm still trying to process this," Martin Cassindorf said. He and his wife Irma had lived in their house for 24 years, but now there's hardly anything left. "Horrible flames that I'll remember all my life, watching all my possessions, family albums and pictures and mementos of a lifetime going up in flames. Rather than rebuild, I'm actually thinking of tearing it down, selling the lot, and moving away from all these homeless people because it could happen again."


Neighbors in the canals say living in a homeless encampment on Venice Boulevard are wreaking havoc on the neighborhood — making a mess in the alleyway, going through garbage cans and more.


Glenn Searle lives just across the alley for the Cassindorfs, and over the weekend said he saw several homeless people coming and going out of the building next door, which was under construction. He didn't see the fire being lit, but saw it burning in the garage around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

"I called 911, but in the two minutes I was on hold with 911, which is infuriating, it went from a seemingly controlled circle to flames coming out on all sides in the garage," Searle said.

Multiple other neighbors say they also called 911, but were also put on hold and never got through. Some said it took firefighters 20 minutes to arrive.

Arson investigators have been called to look into the blaze, but a cause for the fire has not yet been determined.