EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) – Authorities say they recently removed a homeless person who had been living in an abandoned mineshaft in the Placerville area.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office says they received a report back in December that there was a homeless person living in a mine shaft in the Placerville area. They also received a report from someone who says they smelled smoke and saw some people, who appeared to be homeless, coming out of the mine, according to a sheriff’s office statement.

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“There is definitely dangers of these shafts collapsing and not being a real stable environment for a human to live. Also, if they are starting fires in there is a possibility they could asphyxiate from smoke,” said Public Information Officer, Sgt. Eric Palmberg.

Another person told authorities they saw someone cutting down vegetation and placing it near the entrance of the mineshaft.

According, to Sgt. Palmberg the man created a makeshift home inside.

“It looked like they had a small address posted outside the shaft, throughout the different tunnels it looked like a lot of personal belongings, personal lighting, bicycles, canned goods, I believe there was some makeshift mattress in there,” he explained.

The mine is near the popular El Dorado Trail, where there was a separate report of a homeless person snapping their whip and acting strangely.

“That’s scary, definitely scary and there are a lot of women on that bike trail, so I worry about them,” said Larry Straight who lives nearby.

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Resident, Bob Kneelind , said he walks the trail daily with his wife.

“It’s beautiful, we love it,” he explained. “Pretty much everyday, we use it a lot, bicycle, ride, a lot of stuff you could do and you see a lot of people,” he continued.

Palmberg said the man living in the shaft came with several concerns.

“Not only is there concern for the people, the passersby, with the threatening type of behavior. If these individuals are lighting fires in the area there is also a potential for wildfires,” he said.

According, to the California Department of Conservation in the past 15 years at least 18 people have died and 40 people have been injured at abandoned mines

The sheriff’s office’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) went to the mine and made contact with the person living inside. He says he had been there for several years. He declined assistance from HOT and moved on after being warned for trespassing.

Within the last few weeks the mineshaft was permanently closed to prevent access, according to Palmberg. The Sherriff’s Office received a report that several people were living inside, however Palmberg said they only had an encounter with on individual.

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