MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Six tents were destroyed in a fire at the homeless encampment at Hiawatha and Cedar avenues in Minneapolis early Friday morning.
At 1:15 a.m., the Minneapolis Fire Department responded to the homeless encampment after several tents started on fire. Crews said they were able to extinguish the flames quickly, but not before the tents burned to the ground.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but fire officials believe portable warming heaters inside the tents likely caused it.
"A lot of it is that people are living in their tents,” Deputy Chief Todd White said. “They are using propane and warming fires and they also have their belongings, clothes, food and everything they own is with them in their tents. So, that is a congested, confined area. Tents on top of tents and people with their belongings on top of people.”
Social Services is now working with those affected by the fire.
The fire occurred one day before those living in the encampment were supposed to have access to a new warming shelter set up across the street by the city. A program with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Department of Defense donated the shelter, which is the same kind used by the military as a portable medical examiner.
The city hopes the shelter will provide additional heated space until a permanent solution is ready.
Since temperatures have dropped, there have been at least three tent fires over the last few weeks. Several people have also been overcome with carbon monoxide.