Two RVs gutted in fire under West Seattle Bridge

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SEATTLE - Two RVs parked under the West Seattle Bridge were destroyed in a fire at a homeless camp early Thursday.

Seattle fire said the fire at East Marginal Way South and South Spokane Street in the Industrial District was called in at 4:09 a.m. 

PHOTOS: Engine failure causes RV fires at homeless camp

Fire officials said that a man who was living in one of the RVs was trying to start the engine to keep warm when the engine failed and caught fire. 

Seattle City Light looked for possible damage to the lighting system on the lower Spokane Street Bridge, which was closed to traffic until 6:35 a.m. A Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman, Norm Mah, said there was no major damage.

Rob Maples, who lives at the camp, said he woke up just in time to capture video of the flames on his cellphone.

"It happened in the span of literally 5 minutes. It was fully engulfed in flames," said Maples.

Maples lives in his car, and others in RVS and tents, in same area where last week city crews came by to haul away a large amount of trash.

Reporter Patranya Bhoolsuwan spoke with the city's human services department to ask if the garbage issue -- and now the fire -- raised enough concerns to move the people out of the area.

They told her they know the safety risks and they are working on a plan. The city said a navigation team was there all morning doing outreach and offering alternative shelter.

"We are beginning to assess the working condition of the RVs and other vehicles all along Spokane Street as we work to close the area to all camping," the city said in a homelessness response blog.

In the next 10 days, the city said it plans to clear the area so repair and maintenance, that is unrelated to the fire, can be performed.

Meanwhile, Maples says he knows living there is not ideal, but while he tries to get a job and fights drug addiction, he wants to stay.

"Here, there is sense of community. While it's not perfect, it's a temporary solution while you figure something else out," said Maples.

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