Minneapolis Fire warns encampment to not start fires

How do you survive the cold? “Layers of blankets, sleeping bags one inside the other. Hats, long underwear, many socks.”

Edgar Linares
October 23, 2018 - 7:51 pm

By Edgar Linares


As the temperature drop in the Twin Cities concerns are on the rise about fire dangers of fires at the South Minneapolis homeless encampment.

The encampment has well over 200 tents near a sound wall off of Highway 55 and Franklin Avenue South.

On Tuesday afternoon, we found Todd Longie preparing for another cold night. He's been staying at the encampment for about a week now, since his girlfriend asked him to leave. He told us how he survives the cold temps.

“Layers of blankets, sleeping bags one inside the other,” said Longie. “Hats, long underwear, many socks.”

He says when the wind is strong the air can still get into his tent causing people to get sick, and if you get sick that could lead to serious problems said Longie.

Some people in the camp are using pots as fire pits and others actually have fire pits next to their tents. Cheri Lyn has been homeless for three years and has been staying at the camp since August 1, she’s says at night when it gets cold she shares her fire pit with neighbors.

“Everybody’s welcome to sit down and stay warm,” said Lyn.

By Edgar Linares

The Minneapolis Fire Department tweeted on Monday that fires are not permitted at the encampment and they're asking people to stop bringing fire wood to the folks staying there. Some folks are taking grills into tents at night according to Langie.

James Allen Cross a volunteer with Natives Against Heroin has set up a large tent that can sleep more than 20 people with a wood burning stove and a chimney in the tent’s ceiling.

“It’s heated, you see it’s a safe unit,” said Cross. “You know it’s not their safe, as they say in the fire department. We have to realistically look at how we’re going to help these people stay warm, stay safe until they get into housing.”

By Edgar Linares

Many at the encampment will tough it out until the city's Navigation Center opens in December. Last week, the Minneapolis City Council approved $1.5 million to fund the Navigation Center.

Cross says many will go to the 1.25 acres shared on Cedar Avenue shared by the Red Lake Nation and Minneapolis, but there will still be some who stay behind.