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Police: Kalamazoo encampment fire caused by filling propane tank near open flame

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jan 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 10:18:52-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A tent fire that occurred Sunday night at a homeless encampment in Kalamazoo was caused by someone "actively filling one-pound propane tanks from a larger 20-pound tank near an open flame," the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said.

“There was a failure with the improvised adaptor on one of the propane tanks causing an explosion," Fire Marshal Scott Brooks said. "Due to the intense heat from the fire, 15 other one-pound propane tanks exploded.”

No one was seriously hurt in the incident.

One person reported minor injuries and they were treated and released by a local ambulance service.

Three people were taken to a local hotel for the night as their property had significant damage.

Ian Ealenzuela, a man who's been staying in the encampment for four months, was a few hundred feet away from the fire when it happened.

"We're trying to stay warm as best we can, but accidents happen, too," Ealenzuela said.