Iowa Man Burned in Homeless Camp Fire

Dec. 1, 2008
Crews saw smoke as they approached.


Fire and rescue crews were sent to a homeless camp near the Des Moines River Monday after an explosion was reported.

The camp near Michigan Street is north of University Avenue bridge. 

"We had a fire in a little makeshift shanty home along the river. (It) burned up one of the little tents and homes, and one of the occupants had received some injuries," said Joe Giudicessi, Des Moines fire district chief.

Crews said one man in his 40s was taken to Mercy Medical Center with injuries. Firefighters on scene said he suffered burns to his legs.  His name and condition are not yet available.

Giudicessi said the cause is still under investigation, but he said it appears the tiny wooden shack had a heat source, likely a wood burning stove. 

KCCI's Geoff Greenwood called Des Moines Permit and Development Administrator Phil Delafield on Monday about how he plans to deal with the situation. Delafield said he had no comment. 

Several city inspectors were on the scene Monday morning.

Last week, a homeless advocate approached the Des Moines city council for help in building shelters for the homeless.

David Costello was told he had violated the city's construction ordinances by using scrap lumber and pallets to build makeshift huts.

City leaders said they were concerned about safety issues with having wood-burning stoves in the shelters.

Costello said the council's logic defied common sense and that the huts were not more dangerous than sleeping in a box under a bridge.

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