Boston Herald

3rd tent catches fire on Methadone Mile

- By Sean philip Cotter

Another tent caught fire in the Mass and Cass area, marking at least the third such instance in the past month — and city councilors are urging further steps to fix conditions in the troubled area, including abatements for property owners.

Boston Fire Department responded to Southampto­n Street near Atkinson Street around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday for a tent fire.

It was a minor fire, a BFD spokesman said, injuring no one and burning the tent and some property within it. The cause of the fire remains under investigat­ion.

There have previously been two fires in tents in the area that the department has responded to, one on Atkinson and the other on Southampto­n, per the department. No one was hurt in any of the fires, and one person was arrested in connection with one on Sept. 27.

This comes as the conditions in the South End area known as Mass and Cass or Methadone Mile have steadily worsened, with an open-air drug market becoming more entrenched, dangerous and filthy as more than 150 tents have sprung up there.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey on Tuesday announced intentions to begin to crack down on the tent encampment­s, seeking to move people to treatment ahead of the cold.

On Wednesday, City Councilor Frank Baker introduced an ordinance change aimed at keeping public areas cleaner and without homeless people living on them. He said he’d been working on it before Janey’s move came together — and said the acting mayor’s plans, while a good start, could be seen as “a day late and a dollar short.”

“It’s time for us to stop being able to deal with this,” Baker said, suggesting diverting police resources, sending people on the streets to long-term detox and treatment and using state resources to add treatment beds.

City Councilor Michael Flaherty signed on, suggesting the city look at property-tax abatements for people who live or own businesses in the area and are dealing with human waste and violence every day.

“They deserve better from the city, and we dropped the ball on them,” Flaherty said. “Enough’s enough over there.”

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