Two burned in tent fire at homeless camp

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 | 8:51 a.m. CST; updated 10:24 a.m. CST, Wednesday, January 18, 2012

COLUMBIA — Two people were burned Tuesday after their tent caught fire at a homeless campsite north of 409 Vandiver Road.

The Columbia Fire Department responded to a call at 11:59 p.m. from the America's Best Value Inn Motel at 1718 N. Providence Road. A man came into the motel lobby and told the desk clerk he had been burned and needed help.

He also told the desk clerk there was another burn victim still at the homeless camp where the fire occurred.

When Columbia firefighters and a University Hospital ambulance arrived on the scene, the man, 40, directed them to a campsite in the woods north of the Vandiver West office complex.

The other burn victim, a 30-year-old woman, was found in a shed near the corner of the office complex's parking lot. Both victims were transported by ambulance to University Hospital.

By the time the fire department arrived, the fire was extinguished, Capt. John Metz said. He would not disclose the victims' names or the degree of the victims' burns.

"They were significant enough that it required transport to the hospital," he said.

Metz said though there were likely other homeless people living in the area, the fire affected only the two victims and their tent.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by Columbia Fire Department investigators. 

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