EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - The El Paso County Sheriff's Office notified residents of an illegal homeless camp that they have until Friday morning to leave.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the camp is located on property behind Rocky Top Resources on Las Vegas Street, just outside the Colorado Springs city limits, and the property is owned by that business.
What's unusual about this camp is that the property owner allowed it to be there.
"A homeless advocate in the community reached out to Rocky Top Resources and sought permission for these folks to be here," said Lt. Bill Huffor. "That permission was granted. So that homeless advocate spread the word, and a bunch of people have moved here fairly recently."
The Sheriff's Office said as many as 100 people inhabit the camp, and have lived there from a few days to several months.
"It's one of the largest camps we've seen," Huffor said.
It's unclear whether the size of the camp, or a fire last weekend at the business near the camp, were factors in the property owner changing his mind.
Huffor said the fire investigation indicates the fire started by spontaneous combustion in a mulch pile and was not sparked by camp activity.
On Wednesday afternoon, deputies visited the camp and posted notices giving campers 48 hours to leave.
The camp will be cleaned on Friday after it is vacated, the Sheriff's Office said.
"I think they're treating us unfairly," a homeless man said.
"It's not our fault that we're homeless," a homeless woman said.
This will be the third time in several months that deputies have evicted illegal campers. Camps under and near bridges at 31st Street and Colorado Avenue were cleared out in December and January.
Some homeless people have since returned to the bridges and resumed illegal camping.
A homeless advocate observing the eviction said the property owner is being pressured by city officials to evict the campers, or face a fine for violating zoning requirements.
The Sheriff's Office did not respond to that remark.
Huffor said he believes there are as many as 20 similar camps scattered across the city and county.