NEW BEDFORD - A shed fire outside a mill at 1 Wamsutta St. led authorities to discover a large homeless encampment hidden in the brush Monday afternoon.

"There's a whole homeless encampment back behind here that we recently discovered today because of this fire," said District Fire Chief James Clark.

Tires within the abandoned masonry shed were on fire, sending heavy smoke pouring out.

"It's certainly arson," Clark said. "Somebody ignited the tires on fire that were in the building."

Firefighters searched the shed for homeless individuals but found none while knocking down the fire. The fire was out within 10 to 15 minutes.

Two engine companies and a ladder truck responded to prevent the fire from spreading to the mill, only five feet away.

As for the homeless people living nearby, the city plans to clear the area Tuesday.

"The city's slated to come by here tomorrow to kind of clear everybody out," said Clark. "There's a lot of stuff, debris, homeless items that have to be taken out."

Investigators will also interview any homeless individuals if they have any information about the fire.

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