Minneapolis fire crews extinguish fire at homeless encampment

Minneapolis fire officials said a large, longstanding homeless encampment along Interstate 35W caught fire Monday night.

A 911 caller reported an "explosion" that apparently was caused by a 20-pound propane cylinder that burst amid the fire, but there were no reports of injuries.

The fire was reported just before 9 p.m. near the parking lot of the Home Depot store in northeast Minneapolis, on the west end of the Quarry shopping center.

Authorities said firefighters found a large pile of wooden pallets on fire, and the flames spread to trees and brush in the area between the parking lot and the freeway. People in encampments often use propane tanks and pallet fires to keep warm.

Firefighters reported the blaze also burned nearby tarp tents as well as the propane cylinder.

"Fire crews had to climb over a fence and stretch the fire hose a long distance to reach the fire," the fire department reported in a news release. "The fire was near a building but there was no fire extension or damage to the building."

It was the latest in a series of fires in encampments in the Twin Cities in recent years, including one that killed one person living in a tent in St. Paul in January 2021.

The city of Minneapolis cleared out a large encampment in the Phillips neighborhood in July after a fire that started in a nearby vacant house also destroyed two adjacent homes.

MPR News is Reader Funded

Before you keep reading, take a moment to donate to MPR News. Your financial support ensures that factual and trusted news and context remain accessible to all.