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Fire, propane tank explosions destroy Eugene homeless camp

April 7, 2021 GMT

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a homeless camp caught fire underneath a bridge in Eugene early Wednesday, leading multiple propane tanks to explode and destroy the tents and possessions of people living there.

Noelle Wade, who had been staying there for three weeks said she woke up in the middle of the night to flames engulfing her tent before other camp residents pulled her out, The Register-Guard reported.

Located under the Ferry Street Bridge, residents say more than a half dozen people had been living there.

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The Eugene Police Department said the blaze “most likely” started with a warming fire that was too close to structures and a propane tank. When police arrived, they saw a “large fire under the bridge with multiple explosions,” according to a news release. Officers shut down Ferry Street Bridge because at one point flames shot up the sides of it.

Wade said she went to a hospital in Springfield to be treated for a burn injury to her foot and also was given a replacement tent before returning to the site.

The fire marshal will investigate to determine the cause and origin of the fire, Battalion Chief Rod Cullen said.

Members of Eugene Public Works and Eugene Springfield Fire visited the site and said they didn’t notice significant structural damage to the bridge.