Tents catch fire in South Minneapolis homeless encampment

“We had approximately 8 to 10 tents that were destroyed.”

Edgar Linares
November 19, 2018 - 6:07 pm

By Edgar Linares

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Nearly a dozen tents at the south Minneapolis homeless encampment had to be extinguished by Minneapolis firefighters Monday after tall flames consumed them and caused a propane tank to explode, according to witnesses. 

Fire crews are still investigating the cause, but James Cross with Natives Against Heroin was there and said he knows the person who allegedly started the fire. He said that individual was acting negligently.

“One guy that’s always on meth, he don’t listen to nobody. He thinks he can hoard everything. He’s just bringing in a case of donated propane,” said Cross. 

The fire started Monday afternoon, at the homeless encampment near Minnehaha and Franklin Avenues in South Minneapolis. The encampment has grown since August and now well over 200 people are there waiting to find housing or plan tough it out all winter long.

“It sounds like everybody was able to get out of tents,” said Bryan Tyner, Assistant Fire Chief of Administration shortly after the fire.

Fire Chief John Fruetel later reported one person was taken by ambulance to an area hospital due to smoke inhalation. 

By Edgar Linares

Last month, the Minneapolis City Council Approved $1.5 million dollars to build a “Navigation Center” near the 2100 block of Cedar Avenue South which would house well over 100 people, on property owned by the Red Lake Nation and the city. City officials have been scrambling to build the center before the extreme cold hits. 

When temperatures began dropping the Minneapolis Fire Department issued a warning to people to not light fires at the encampment, a warning that’s been ignored for the most part. 

“We had approximately 8 to 10 tents that were destroyed,” said Chief Fruetel.  

The Chief said they’ve been concerned about fires at the encampment since September and said people found out today that these tents burn very quickly. 

“Any little ignition source in this type of environment can have a real disastrous effect,” said Chief Fruetel. “It’s important to remember that the city is offering up shelter for these folks and I hope now some will take advantage of that and utilize it for now.”