FRIDAY FIRE: Des Moines Homeless Camp Burns
Officials are investigating a fire at a homeless camp just south of the State Capitol Building early Friday morning.
It happened around 7:00 a.m. Friday near Southeast 7th and Market.
The large area was lived in by one man who is well-known among homeless outreach groups in town.
“Larry is a really, really good guy, and we came down to hopefully help him out,” says John McInnerney with Primary Health Care.
Fire crews say no one was injured in the fire, but they’re trying to find the man living there to get some answers into how it possibly started.
Officials say these type of fires increase as the weather turns cooler, when people turn to fires, propane heaters and candles to stay warm.
“I’m very concerned about the safety of the people in the camps, I’m very concerned for the safety of the firefighters to respond to these areas, they are often hard to get to, little water supply, the dangers of a propane cylinder failing is a direct threat to the firefighters out there,” says Fire Chief John TeKippe.
Advocates say they fear the fire will force the homeless community in the area somewhere else and with some down on their luck it may be hard to pick up and start over somewhere new.
“Those that are suffering from homelessness are hardworking individuals, that have no caught a break, have not got the right job or maybe they’re just not mentally ready,” says McInnerney.
Fire officials say it comes down to community safety, and plan to look into alternatives that would keep everyone involved out of danger.
“We need to work with the homeless advocates, and find other places for people to be and safer ways to live out there,” says Chief TeKippe.
Fire investigators are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire.