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Fire at homeless camp damages bridge, makes kids sick

PITTSBURGH — Children are sick and a bridge is damaged after a fire started at a homeless camp.

The camp is under the Mcardle Bridge next to Cupples Stadium.

During a lacrosse game at the stadium Wednesday afternoon, the smoke from the fire at the camp was so bad that some players had trouble breathing, according to police.

“It can cause some breathing issues. We’ve had situations in the past during football or soccer games where we’ve had to call the fire police,” said Mike Gavlik, Pittsburgh Public Schools athletic director.

Police said one person was cited for dangerous burning. Firefighters noticed fire damage to the Mcardle Bridge. The firefighters called in city inspectors who checked out the bridge. The inspectors said there was no structural damage.

John Flint, resident of the camp, said they were using the fire to cook. Flint said there was hardly any smoke at all and doesn’t believe it could’ve affected people on the field.

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“What it is, is they’ve been trying to get rid of us for a very long time. And they’re having a hard time so they are trying to find any little detail they can use against us,” Flint said.

Gavlik said there have been other issues including people from the camp coming to the stadium to use the restroom or charge cell phones.

“We are sympathetic to their situation but you know with us dealing with youth and student-athletes, our situation is that it's just a little bit too close for comfort,” Gavlik said.

Last week, people were upset with Mayor Bill Peduto and his support of the homeless camps. Channel 11 contacted the mayor’s office and they said they are evaluating what to do with this camp.

The mayor’s office said Public Works crews will be out to the camp soon to remove any debris.

Those living at the camp have been told not to start any more fires.

 
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