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Manchester firefighters rescue hypothermic man found in woods

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 10. 2017 2:30PM
The homeless encampment where the Manchester Fire Department found a man hypothermic on Saturday afternoon. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A hypothermic man rescued on Saturday afternoon was found in a homeless camp made of tents, tarps — even barbecue grills — that draws more than a dozen people at times, according to neighbors.

They said firefighters and ambulances answer calls to the camp and Willow Street neighborhood on a regular basis. So a report that Manchester firefighters rescued a man showing signs of hypothermia drew little surprise.

The area is an abandoned railroad track that runs between South Elm and Willow streets.

“They used to be down by the river. Now they’re on the railroad tracks,” said Fred Fricker, a landlord who owns the building at 182 Willow St.

According to the Manchester Fire Department, a crew was sent to the building shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday for a medical emergency.

Firefighters saw smoke coming from the wooded area, and found a man lying motionless in the snow, about 10 feet from a dwindling campfire.

“It had been snowing for several hours at this point and it was clear that this subject had been in this position since before it began snowing,” the fire department said in a statement.

He showed signs of hypothermia, which is a cooling of the body due to outside temperatures. AMR Ambulance transported him to a hospital for treatment.

Two tents were visible from the parking lot at Fricker’s property. One had a pallet at its entrance, a tattered tarp stretched over it.

Fricker said as many as 20 people gather in the area. Last year, the fire department answered a call when propane from a grill started a fire in nearby brush, he said.

“It’s almost like a little town back there,” said Fricker. He said they generally keep to themselves; some have jobs.

A Willow Street neighbor, who asked not to be named, said trash is one of the bigger problems. In the summer the trash can cause odor problems. With winter, the encampment will shrink, he said.

The encampment residents often walk Willow Street, sometimes with scrap metal that they sell at a nearby scrap metal dealer, he said. Most are regulars.

In the last two years, he said he’s called an ambulance three or four times for someone who has collapsed.

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