Fire breaks out at Minneapolis homeless encampment

- Minneapolis firefighters responded to a fire at the homeless encampment in south Minneapolis Monday afternoon.

Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner says around 3:15 p.m. firefighters responded to a report of multiple tents on fire at the encampment near East 26th Street and Hiawatha Avenue. The crews were able to put out the fire quickly. The fire involved about eight to 10 tents. No one was hurt in the fire. One person was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Tyner says the fire department has been up front with city leaders about fire concerns in the encampment. Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel says he hopes those living in the encampment move instead to city shelters.

"It is dangerous; there’s no doubt that it’s dangerous," said Chief Fruetel.

As temperatures have dipped, more people living at the encampment have turned to warming their tents with fires. Drug use at the camp has also been a concern as several overdose deaths have been linked to the camp.

The City of Minneapolis is planning to open a temporary Navigation Center next month for those living in the encampment. Following the fire, city officials released the following statement:

“Mayor Frey has been in close touch with Fire Chief John Freutel regarding this afternoon’s fire. Chief Freutel has regularly visited with people living at the encampment to reinforce the importance of following proper fire safety protocols. The safety of those at and near the encampment has been, and will continue to be, the Mayor’s top priority. He is actively coordinating across departments to assess needs and help ensure that those who need resources to stay safe have them.”

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