Tense scene unfolds outside charred liquor store as ATF investigates, scrappers lurk

ATF at Chene & FerryA group of men gathered across the street of a charred liquor store on the city’s east side and plotted how best to remove scrap metal once the local and federal investigators leave.

In the meantime, some residents began heckling the owners of Ideal Market at Chene and Ferry, accusing them of burning down the store for insurance money.

“You’re sick,” one woman yelled from her car at the men, who paced across the street. “I hope your asses go to jail.”

This 40-year-old is among neighbors who are suspicious of the fire.
This 40-year-old is among neighbors who are suspicious of the fire.

The self-described owners, who wouldn’t divulge their names, said they closed the store temporarily for a break Wednesday evening and returned to see the building engulfed in flames. They stood in earshot of people planning to scavenge the building for scrap metal and plexiglass, which can fetch a few dollars.

Two firefighters were injured, one of them severely, when chunks of the facade crumbled and cascaded on their heads and backs. They suffered concussions and back and neck injuries, fire officials said. One of the firefighters was still hospitalized today.

Firefighters tend to a severely injured comrade.
Firefighters tended to severely injured comrade.

“We came here for everything – food, drinks, toilet paper. Everything,” a 40-year-old man who would only identify himself as Eddie told us. “Where are we gonna go now? There’s nothing left.”

The two-story building, which included a second floor used for storage space, is surrounded by abandoned, gutted buildings.

Behind the liquor store, more than a dozen people gathered under the rusted roof of Chene Ferry market and talked about the weather, their weekend plans and the demise of their neighborhood.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.