January 31, 2019 4:25 pm

Good Samaritan buys hotel rooms for 70 homeless people caught up in polar vortex

WATCH: U.S. Midwest gripped by deep freeze leaving at least 12 dead

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A good Samaritan offered to pay for hotel rooms for 70 homeless people in Chicago who were left out in the bitter cold after a propane tank explosion in their makeshift camp.

At least 12 people have died as temperatures down to -20 C blanketed the U.S. Midwest.

READ MORE: Canadian prairies colder than North Pole, almost as cold as Mars

The offer came after a portable propane tank exploded Wednesday at a camp made up of tents and blankets near an expressway, the Chicago Tribune reported. No one was injured in the explosion.

Firefighters in the city confiscated nearly 100 propane tanks, which had been donated to the group to keep them warm.

Officials from the fire department said the high number of propane tanks prompted a “level 1 hazmat” alert, and they needed to be confiscated.

“There was a significant amount of propane there,” Fire Chief Walter Schroeder told the Tribune. “And with that many cylinders, that’s like a bomb going off.”

The fire department said in a tweet “under no circumstance should you donate propane tanks which are potential fire hazards.”

Salvation Army spokeswoman Jacqueline Rachev said city officials told the organization about their actions at the camp — and asked her to help relocate the people at the camp.

The Salvation Army was about to move the people to a warming centre when the city called again and informed them of the gesture.

“Isn’t that wonderful?” Rachev told the Tribune.  “At least they’re warm and they’re safe.”

Rachev was not sure of the identity of the good Samaritan.

— with files from Global News

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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