Fire Drill at The Bridge Worries Neighbors

Hundreds evacuated from homeless assistance center during drill

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Some neighbors by The Bridge homeless assistance shelter in Dallas were worried a fire drill would end up being disruptive to the area. (Published Friday, Jun 22, 2012)

    The Dallas homeless assistance center held a fire drill Friday, alarming neighbors about potential problems as the hundreds of people staying there were all forced out at once.

    The alarm at The Bridge sounded at 9 a.m., and scores of people flooded out of the place. The crowd blocked the street outside, and many people sat on neighbors' property.

    Police arrived to keep order and detained one man for a while as the drill ended and people started returning through security back to The Bridge.

    Some residents complained about being rushed outside, but others said they understood why.

    "It was a good idea, you know, especially for the handicapped," Steve Schaffner said. "The handicapped have a harder time getting out."

    Police said management would be asked to help keep people out of the street and off private property the next time. Police said those staying at The Bridge now may not benefit from this drill.

    "We have a lot of turnover at The Bridge as far as the clientele, but there are also other people who are here on numerous occasions," Sgt. Larry Litton said.

    Leslie Ingendorf, owner of a produce warehouse directly across the street from The Bridge, said the drill went better than she expected.

    "But still, it would be much better if the main entrance or the security entrance was on another other side, because it is disruptive to the area," she said. "They did block the street, and it was an eyeful."

    The Dallas Farmer's Market is just a block away from The Bridge.

    The city is currently reviewing bids from two competing developers who are offering to operate the market and make major improvements to it.

    Neighbors said they are concerned The Bridge could spoil those plans.

    Market customers today had different views.

    "I think it would scare people away, and this is a nice area," Sarah Couch said. "Evidently, they're going to fix it up, and I just don't think that's a place for the homeless."

    But Janice Smith, who has been shopping at the farmer's market for years, said she has never found homeless people to be a problem there.

    "They need to leave them alone," she said. "They need to stay somewhere."

    The city is expected to announce a winner for the farmer's market redevelopment this fall.