A person has died after a fire in a homeless camp near the Disraeli Freeway late Tuesday morning.
The fire broke out at about 11 a.m. It wasn’t immediately known how many tents caught fire, but several were surrounded by police tape Tuesday afternoon.
Two sources close to the investigation confirmed to Global News that one person is dead.
One source said the call initially came in as an explosion and investigators feared there would be more than one fatality.
Winnipeg police said they were assisting with the investigation on the ground but didn’t have any details.
The city of Winnipeg confirmed the details Tuesday afternoon.
“Upon arrival on scene, crews found a temporary structure engulfed in smoke and flames. It’s believed the explosions were a result of aerosols igniting,” said the city in a release.
“Upon the extinguishment of the fire, crews located one individual deceased. There were no other injuries reported.”
An anti-poverty advocate who checks on the people in the camps regularly said they feared something like this could happen.
“It’s terrible. It’s like as someone who’s been working with unhoused people and trying to help him these last couple of weeks through this cold snap, it’s been like, this is like our worst fear,” said Harrison Powder from the Urban Warrior Alliance.
“Whenever there’s cold and in the winter, fire is always a major concern, but people need fires,” said Powder.
“Every night they risk their lives by lighting a fire, whether it’s a candle, a propane tank, whatever it is, they have to stay warm.”
Local homeless advocacy group Main Street Project said they would do what they can to help.
“Our Van Patrol Mobile Outreach will continue to support the community and work alongside the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
“Our thoughts are with those who will be directly impacted through this loss, and we will continue to rally around with and for community.”
About a year ago, a similar camp in the same area also suffered a fire.
On March 11, 2020, several tents and a utility pole were engulfed in flames when crews arrived at the fire. No one was hurt in that blaze.
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