Reports of propane explosions in second fire at Mpls homeless encampment

Click to see progress at homeless Navigation Center

Edgar Linares
November 29, 2018 - 7:28 pm

By Edgar Linares


For the second time this month, a fire has caused damage at the homeless encampment in south Minneapolis.

No one was hurt in the blaze that happened about 1:15 a.m. Friday, with six tents catching fire.

According to a statement by the Minneapolis Fire Department, there were reports of propane cylinders exploding before crews arrived at the scene in the area of Hiawatha and Franklin Avenes.

Social services workers are trying to find shelter for people who were living in those tents.

It's not known what caused the fire. 

On Nov. 19, more than eight tents in the encampment caught fire.

There were no injuries in that fire, which officials say was caused by an unattended propane heater.

The second fire in ten days comes as work continues on a $1.5 million Navigation Center at 2109 Cedar Avenue South in Minneapolis.

By Edgar Linares

The facility's framing in place and soon all the buildings will be wrapped in vinyl.

The Minneapolis City Council approved funding for the temporary center and they’re hoping it will be ready by mid-December for the hundreds of homeless people living in tents nearby.

On Thursday, construction crews assembling the framing for three large tent-like structures started wrapping at least one of them with vinyl and soon it will have heat pumped inside. A few yards away dozens of showers and bathrooms will be available. In addition, a mobile building on the property will offer housing and health services to help get people off the streets and into homes.

At the homeless encampment, a short distance away on Hiawatha and Franklin Avenues life goes on with many people spending most of their day keeping warm inside their tents.

“It’s not as bad as you think,” said one of the people at the tent city.

The man wanted to remain anonymous, but said he choose to stay at the encampment after he lost his apartment more than a month ago. He said his roommate stopped paying their portion of the rent and was told to leave; he lived with his sister and then left, he's been at the camp for two weeks.

“I don’t like living by nobody else’s rules… I thought I’d try this for once,” said the man sitting in his tent.

On Wednesday, Minneapolis Fire Department erected a large heated tent that could fit up to 200 people. People there were utilizing the space for eating and getting out of the cold. The Minneapolis Star Tribune said firefighters are encouraging the homeless to leave the encampment once the Navigation Center is open. We asked the man sitting in his tent if he’ll head over once it’s ready or if he'll tough it out in the cold for the winter.

“No that’s just too much,” said the man. “I’m not use to living this way.”