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Arkansas organization provides help following fire at Little Rock homeless camp

A homeless camp in Little Rock was burned down following a fire late Tuesday night. Now, a local group of volunteers is stepping up to help.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Tuesday night was rough for Caleb Alexander-McKinzie, who volunteers for 'The Van' in Little Rock.

"So I said, 'okay, this is an emergency,' and she said, 'Yeah, this is absolutely an emergency,'" Alexander-McKinzie said. "It hurts all of us to see these people suffering even more and unnecessarily."

The Van is a nonprofit that serves unsheltered and homeless individuals in central Arkansas.

"Things that are important to them are all gone and probably unsalvageable," he said. "I'm sure they've gone back out there today to kind of sift through and see what they can pull out, but it was heartbreaking."

He said a fire broke out in an unsheltered camp in southwest Little Rock Tuesday night. Out of respect for privacy for those affected, we're not sharing the location of the camp nor were we allowed to know where it is.

Pictures shared by Alexander-McKenzie show burnt earth and charred tents – a remnant of a camp just a day ago. He said those living in the camp had to use their own belongings to put the camp out.

"That's the thing, no one knows why this happened, they don't know if it's someone that decided to take advantage of them because they exist in a vulnerable state," Alexander-McKenzie said.

He said they responded Tuesday night with new tents and clothes for those who lost their belongings. And as a whole, Alexander-McKenzie said there's more people in need.

"So we know that it's an increased amount of homelessness that is happening in central Arkansas, and that number tracks true all over the U.S.," he said.

Other organizations are seeing the same. Rev. William Holloway is the CEO of the Little Rock Compassion Center

He said this is more common than most would think.

"It's as if they've never had no home to begin with or for some reason, they've lost their home," he said. "There's a lot of things that happen to people out here, and I think the average American, a lot of them are only one paycheck away from being homeless."

Alexander-McKenzie said that's important to remember. Those in the camp are our neighbors, and that's a way to help them out of this.

"What we can do is be there for our neighbors. We can go to them where they stay and meet the immediate needs that they have as immediately as possible," he said.