Ithaca firefighters responded to a blaze at 12:30 p.m. on Monday that destroyed one man’s temporary residence in a shed-like structure in “The Jungle,” an encampment located behind the Wegmans store in south Ithaca.
Deb Wilke, a volunteer for Second Wind Cottages, told The Sun that one man was affected by the fire and is currently living in a hotel nearby for a few days, courtesy of the Red Cross.
Ithaca firefighters and police were dispatched to the area behind Walmart and Harbor Freight to respond to fire at a shed-type structure, Ithaca Fire Lt. Thomas T. Basher Jr. said in a statement.
“The Jungle” is an encampment in the woods behind Wegmans/Walmart area where many individuals affected by homelessness in Ithaca reside, The Sun previously reported.
The Ithaca Homeless Crisis Facebook page said that the man will be returning to the Jungle, and that donations for him will be collected at the Community Building at Second Wind Cottages. Some of the “most needed items” for donation include a cot or bed, sleeping bag, durable backpack, shovels and flashlights with batteries.
Second Wind Cottages is a local non-profit that provides housing and support for people affected by homelessness. Wilke spoke at a panel in February advocating for more affordable housing in Ithaca, The Sun previously reported.
Wilke said that Monday’s fire emphasized the need for affordable housing in the area.
“[The displaced man] lived there for a long time, and that is his permanent place of residence,” she said. “I called Red Cross for him yesterday to see if there was some assistance and they said this was a first, to help somebody who actually didn’t have a physical mailing address.”
The cause of fire was undetermined. According to the press release, the firefighters struggled to find the best way to access the flame and used about 500 feet of hose to extinguish the fire. A large propane tank was also near the fire, the press release stated.
The press release also stated that firefighters were sent to a camper that was ablaze in the same area in a similar incident on Sept. 5.
The report stated that though there was heavy damage, no one was injured in either event, and both incidents are under investigation by the Ithaca Police Department.