MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A fire at the Minneapolis homeless encampment raises new concerns as we enter the cold weather season.
A tent caught on fire along Hiawatha Avenue, around 3 p.m. Monday. One person was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
“All I saw was the smoke. And I heard the boom,” said Jerry.
Jerry is one of about 200 people who have been living at the homeless camp. He said the tent fire was the second one he’s seen since living here.
“I’m up by where the explosion was. In fact, it looks to me from what I can see is that it was right next door to me,” said Jerry.
Fire Chief John Fruetel said about 10 tents were damaged. And while the fire was put out quickly, getting there was another story.
“We had some difficulty laying some lines back into the location because of the density that we have as far as – you can see how the tents are packed in here,” said Freutel.
And Freutel is worried it will become even more of an issue as temperatures drop, and people try to heat their tents. Propane cylinders were found at the site of this fire.
“The potential is certainly there and it could be disastrous. We want to try and prevent that,” said Freutel.
The mayor’s office released a statement, saying they have been in touch with Chief Freutel, and that safety for those at the encampment has been, and will be, a top priority.
“Scared. Don’t know which way to go. Which way to turn. It’s sad,” said a neighbor.
Drug overdoses have been another concern here at the camp. The city has approved a temporary navigation center for people to relocate to for shelter, and they said it is on track to open by mid-December.