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Fire at new Mass and Cass encampment destroys several tents

Southampton Street fire

Photo via Live Boston

Live Boston reports firefighters responded to Southampton Street around 3:30 a.m. for a fire that engulfed several tents before it was put out.

The tents' occupants had moved there, near the Southampton Street shelter, after being rousted from the nearby intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.

Mayor Wu has pledged to remove all the tents from the area by Jan. 12 and to get their occupants into temporary housing and care at one of several dedicated sites. These include the long shuttered Roundhouse Hotel at Mass and Cass, which will be overseen by Boston Medical Center, and a series of newly built one- and two-person shelters at Shattuck Hospital in Franklin Park.


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At least it doesn't sound like anyone was hurt.

One reason west coast cities have such entrenched encampments is their milder climate, but fires are a problem there, too (including the ubiquitous 30 year old RVs). This sort of problem is inevitable when ad-hoc heating sources and space heaters are mixed with tents in crowded conditions.

Easy for those with homes to say what unhoused people should and shouldn't do, though. The bottom line is that we need more efforts to find better ways than mass shelters, because those didn't work for a lot of people even in the pre-COVID era.


Exactly, it is impossible for us to understand their situation. In this case at some level they might know how unsafe the combo is. On the other hand if you teeth are getting chipped from chattering you end up taking the risk. They most likely thought it was safer than a fire and it probably is.

I also agree on your point though. This is not working. It has not worked. It will not work. We need a better solution that just helps these people. Either by the long process of getting them on their feet or at this point just finding a suitable place with a bed that is safe for them. It costs money and takes time but it will just keep getting worse.


Hopefully the new year brings a start to action on getting people into long-term care solutions. I know there's a lot of work being done right now on this very issue, and I'm hopeful for the first time in a while that there may be meaningful changes coming down the pipeline. I don't think it'll be enough to solve this web of interrelated problems, but at least it's a start.

I tell my patients who are struggling in life during therapy - Create positive momentum instead of trying to fix all of the problems. A little momentum can build into a lot of change. This is true for individuals, families, and communities. Set small goals and then achieve them - then set slightly bigger goals, and achieve those... rinse and repeat.

Happy New Year <3


Got an up close look at the issues on Los Angeles as my friend and I were going to local breweries this past Monday. Tents in the middle of traffic Islands, tents on the sidewalks in front of stores… It was very interesting. Especially since the weather was rather rainy.

Also saw some temporary housing set up in a parking lot that looked like the ones being set up at Shattuck. Might have been closer to Chinatown… but not sure. Was taking in the sights from the transit line.

If anyone has time, look up skid Row on Wikipedia. Very interesting history of how the homeless seem to be drawn there and stay there. And interesting to see all the legal battles that have been waged between the city and the people that just want to stay there but be left alone.

By the way - it not only rains in Southern California, it pours!


This website gives some additional insight to the Skid Row area:


Janey too. And Marty before them. Everyone knew this was a distinct possibility. But they are too afraid of the ACLUM to do the right thing.


What’s “the right thing”?


Wu has moved with relative lightning speed. Marty was using them as pawns in his game, and Janey was playing to the woke crowd, attempting to win an election. If Wu moved any faster she would be excoriated in the press, branded as heartless, and probably would have been slowed by even unsuccessful litigation.


This is only the last in a series of fires that have taken place the last couple of months. We warned the Mayor that this would happen when she aborted Janey's up-and-running plan and adopted one that could not be immediately implemented.

The same activists who have been driving into Boston to donate tents have been donating propane tanks and generators. They get to feel good about themselves and keep the addicts away from their own neighborhoods. And when someone burns to death, they will point the finger at someone else.


Those activists live in Boston too, but nice try bozo


Many individuals experiencing substance use disorder use fire to prepare drugs for I.V. injection and smoke illicit substances and tobacco. The fires can be from a discarded cigarette or an unattended candle.

They get to feel good about themselves and keep the addicts away from their own neighborhoods.

and what exactly have you done? sure looks to me like you’ve written an unnecessarily haughty post on the internet in an attempt to convince yourself that you have all the answers – if everyone would just listen to you, the world would be a better place.


I live in Worcester Square, and since the bridge came down I have sat in monthly meetings with the other people from my neighborhood and other residential neighborhoods in Roxbury and the South End, business owners in Newmarket, the police, BMC, BUMC, Public Health, AHOPE, Botticelli and now Komaramy at the Grayken Center, the people who run the homeless shelters, the people who run the methadone clinics, the people who run Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, the people at the Office of Recovery services, Rep. Santiago, Councilors Essaibi-George, Baker, and Flynn, advocates for the addicts, teachers at Orchard Park School, etc. I also supported Andrea Campbell and contributed to her Mass and Cass platform. All of us learned a lot during those years, the main lesson being that treating addiction is hard, and that anyone who promises you that solving it is easy, whether through police action, Treatment as Usual, Housing First, Methadone, or Suboxone alone, is deluded or lying.

Although Michelle Wu was a councilor-at-large, and has no shame in asking for our votes, she never attended any of those meetings and only raised her voice about Mass and Cass when the police tossed away a stolen, feces-smeared wheelchair. Janey, belatedly, recognized it was an emergency and put together an approach that combined police, public health, housing first, treatment as usual, and MAT components. Wu agreed it was an emergency but aborted that program and came up with one of her own, one that could not be implemented quickly, and that relies almost exclusively on Housing First, which is great at getting people off the street but dismal at getting people sober, and then located the largest Housing First settlement in the middle of an open-air drug market, which will all but guarantee that no one will get sober, the drug-market will thrive, and the tents will be back.


why not lead with this? even if you think people who would bring tents and supplies are a little misguided, why automatically assume they are slacktivists?

She actually cleared the area before Wu ended that

She has been in office for an extremely short time and has already done more than Marty ever did to alleviate the situation.

I think you have her confused with some sort of magic being - but you'd bitch about that too because you are simply reciting the standard Trumpertantrum script routine.


What is the right and immediate thing to do here? By the time someone ends up living at Mass and Cass, their issues are not as simple as finding them a shelter bed for a few nights. Many are terrified to sleep in a shelter, and those that do are faced with curfew periods where they have to be out of the facility by a certain time in the morning and can’t return until nighttime. Where do they go during the day? What do they do with their down time when they’re trying to maintain sobriety and they’re often just down the street from temptation? I only know of one or two wet shelters in the area, and those can become stressful and violent at times, but many who need help can not physically handle the requirements of a dry shelter without withdrawal. And then, which issue do you deal with first? The addiction, the medical issues that accompany the addiction, or the often mental health-related issues that led to the addiction in the first place? If you have some solid ideas that no one has come up with, let them flow, because it’s not as simple as throwing tents in a Dumpster and letting the rest play outing its own. Many have tried to fix this issue and it’s still there despite years and attempts and visits and meetings and case workers and offers for help.

So what would you do?

That the weather has been mild because if it was windy the fire would have become unstoppable especially if the propane gas heaters exploded.


I work in this area and drove by this location on my way home (as I do everyday) and I didn’t see any remnants of a fire as indicated by the serox tweet nor did they tell us this occurred when I reported for my shift. I just find it weird that when I left work at 3:00 none of this was there, just the tents.

Yes, I went back and listened to the scanner. It was reported by the Fire detail (Delta 22) and engine 4&3 along with ladder 14 were dispatched. Exact location was around Theo Glynn Way @ Newmarket Sq

Are you saying the multiple photos of the fire and the charred wreckage the next morning are fake? Remind me to hire those people for their superb Photoshopping skills.

Let us not be befuddled over this flourishing tent encampment.
I know of a person in Pine Street Inn on 444 Harrison Ave that told me just today that 8 homeless that were living at Pine Street Jamaica Plain were relocated.....to the street to make room for the tent inhabitants.

How the hell does this shuffling of homeless help people already committed to Pine Street after months of remaining at PSI Harrison Ave that are already dealing with case workers and then these tent dwellers become priority.

The tent dwellers desire the privacy of a tent to do their drugs...,people have to see things as they truly are.

And you would deny the down trodden a little warmth? Along with everything else I might add.