A fire at a homeless encampment in New Bedford could have been a lot worse than it was.

New Bedford firefighters responded to reports of a fire behind the former Building #19 along Rt. 140 Wednesday afternoon. Upon arrival, firefighters found one of the makeshift shelters had caught fire from a homemade furnace that was being used to warm several lean-tos.

Fire Chief Michael Gomes tells WBSM News the crudely constructed furnace presented several obvious dangers to the people living in that area. "The first of those being that the way it was set up there was a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning," said Chief Gomes. Gomes says firefighters spoke with several of the people living in that area. "They were instructed of those hazards and the crews permanently disassembled this heating device."

No injuries were reported.

Gomes says as the colder weather begins to set in, he hopes people living outdoors seek other means of shelter.

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