Homeless man causes fire in Greensboro building while trying to stay warm

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Greensboro Fire Department put out a small fire started by a homeless man who was trying to stay warm on a cold Tuesday morning.

The fire happened at the old Proximity Printworks Mill. James Peeples, one of the mill owners, said he has big plans for the property.

"The plans for this mill is residential, multi-family and retail," he said.

Peeples believes the fire is an example of the extremes homeless people will go through in an attempt to stay warm.

"It's been an ongoing problem for us because they want to stay warm and they build a fire and it gets out of hand."

Greensboro police will charge the 28-year-old homeless man with first degree trespassing and injury to personal property.

Greensboro Urban Ministry Executive Director Mike Aiken believes fires at empty homes and mills should not happen. The homeless can find a safe place to sleep and stay warm at the Urban Ministry's Weaver House and at five winter emergency shelters. Plus the homeless can get assistance and begin the process of finding a permanent home.

Aiken adds, "Thanks to a grant from the Phillips Foundation, we have a team that works with the chronically homeless. We hope to end chronic homelessness by 2016."

And when the extremely cold temperatures arrive on Wednesday evening, Greensboro's homeless day shelter, the Interactive Resource Center, will house homeless people overnight.