By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — No one was hurt Monday after flames engulfed a large homeless encampment under Interstate 35 in Duluth.

The Duluth Fire Department said that crews responded around 6 p.m. to the fire near the Mesaba/Superior Street exit after several drivers reported seeing flames and smoke. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they found plumes of black smoke coming from the large homeless encampment, which was burning in several places.

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During an initial search of the encampment, no one was found. According to official, the fire was deemed accidental.

(credit: Duluth Fire Department)

Crews battled the fire with a tanker truck donated by an Ames Construction crew, which was working nearby. This allowed firefighters to battle the flames without laying lines across active railroad tracks.

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While knocking down the flames, crews removed several propane tanks, one of which had released gas and accelerated the fire.

“Firefighters were challenged by the dangerous space and unsafe conditions due to drug paraphernalia and multiple sources of fuel including propane and gasoline,” said Assistant Chief Dennis Edwards, in a statement.

The flames were extinguished in about an hour and a half. When crews again searched the fire area, they found no one. Nearby areas were also searched, and no injuries were reported, fire officials say.

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