Two Men Killed in Explosion

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Just off South Clippert Street, tucked a few hundred yards into the woods, is a place some people call home.

"Sometimes you don't got a place to sleep and you have to do that," Roberto Martinez said.

Martinez doesn't live there, but he knows the six or seven people who do, in tents and make shift shelters year 'round.

"They had a burner," Martinez said. "They put too much wood in it, too much gas, they didn't know what it was."

Saturday night Martinez's two friends -- one he calls Hawk and one he nicknamed John Lennon -- were using a cast iron stove for warmth when it exploded. One man was killed instantly, the other died at the hospital.

"They made a mistake," Martinez said. "Something blew them up, nobody knows why."

The Lansing Township Fire Department is investigating the cause of the fire.

There's an entire community back in the woods off Clippert that not many in Lansing know about. In fact, for some, it's a choice to live here.

There are about 4,000 homeless people in Lansing, five hundred said the city, that choose to forgo traditional shelters in lieu of places like these.

"They make do, they stay warm, they make do," Kevin Heuhs said.

Heuhs plays in a baseball league nearby and over the years has befriended some of the men and women who live here.

"They're good people, they're not dangerous," Heuhs said. "It's definitely a different world."

Just because they've made some different life choices does not make them any less human Heuhs said.

"They were my best friends," Martinez said as he began to cry.

In fact they're dealing with this tragedy as best they can.

The director of Human Relations for the city of Lansing said they do not condone this type of living situation for anyone. She said it's just not safe.

But this wooded area, is in Lansing Township, not Lansing, so they can not force them to leave.


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