Fire burns south Minneapolis homeless encampment

Fire burns south Minneapolis homeless encampment

Fire burns south Minneapolis homeless encampment

A homeless encampment in south Minneapolis was destroyed by fire early Thursday afternoon.

Minneapolis Fire Chief Bryan Tyner says crews were called to the encampment at 11th Avenue South and East 28th Street shortly at around 12:07 p.m.

That’s the location of a homeless encampment colloquially known as Camp Nenookaasi, which moved to the spot early this month after being evicted from its previous location.

Tyner says the encampment was fully engulfed by flames when firefighters arrived. They were able to extinguish the flames in about half an hour and made sure everyone got out.

Two people were treated at the scene, one for minor burns to the hands and another for smoke inhalation, but no other injuries were reported.

This viewer-submitted picture shows flames near 28th Street East and 11th Avenue South on Feb. 29, 2024. (Viewer photo)

Tyner, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and City Operations Officer Margaret Anderson Kelliher all said it was fortunate that nobody was killed.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” Anderson Kelliher said, something Frey and Tyner also said when discussing the fire.

Frey reiterated that he and his team have “deep concerns about the prevalence and size” of homeless encampments like the one at the site of the fire, saying they’re “not safe” for residents or those living nearby.

The mayor added that the issue of getting people at encampments into more permanent shelters “is not exclusively related to housing,” saying that addiction often plays a role and adding that shelters currently have and have had space for people.

Anderson Kelliher said city, county and community partners are all at the encampment site to offer support to those who were living at the encampment, and the Red Cross was also called to help, according to Tyner. Officials believe around 50 people were living at the encampment.

The city plans to put up a fence around the site and remove the portable toilets there as soon as Thursday afternoon before clearing the area on Friday.

Heavy black smoke could be seen from miles away, and aerials and ground shots from 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crews at the scene showed the aftermath of the fire.

Tyner said two nearby buildings had some minor damage to siding from the fire but the flames didn’t extend inside those homes.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Encampment organizers, meanwhile, have already moved to a lot just a few blocks away along 14th Avenue South near East 29th Street.

Chopper 5 flies above Minneapolis Fire crews at the scene of a fire at 28th Street East and 11th Avenue South on Feb. 29, 2024.