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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Tent city fire

March 06 2012
One man killed after fire breaks out at Lakewood, New Jersey, camp


One man was killed after fire broke out in one of America’s most famous “tent cities” - the latest reminder of the danger of these makeshift encampments.

Fire swept through the camp in Lakewood, New Jersey, and rescue teams’ efforts were hampered by the thick foliage that surrounded it. “It took the (Lakewood) fire department a while to reach the fire because of the heavy brush,” said local police sergeant, Glenn Clayton. “They had to use the fire department’s brush truck to clear the area first.”

When police and fire teams finally made it to the camp, the victim’s body was discovered. “There was only one fatality,” Clayton said. “We have not identified the person yet because the body was burned pretty badly and without records it is more difficult.”

Lakewood is a popular spot for tent cities, and has seen five different camps spring up in the last two years - a result of rapidly increasing unemployment and homelessness in the US. The camps are infamously unsafe however, and this was not the first time that the Lakewood camp had been hit by fire. In 2009, a man in his 60s was killed after a blaze at the same site - and a few months later, a 45-year-old man was left with 20 per cent burns after a similar fire.