House by house, the remains of an impoverished, blighted neighborhood near the Palmer Park Golf Course began to go up in smoke.
Since May 20, at least 23 vacant houses and three abandoned apartments were intentionally set ablaze in a 15-block area bounded by Woodward and East 7 Mile, according to records compiled by Motor City Muckraker.
On Monday morning, after more than 50 firefighters saturated the area to battle five overnight fires, authorities arrested a suspect who they believe is responsible for many– if not all – of the recent arsons in the area.
Investigators say the suspect may be formally charged today.
The arsons shared a common trait: The fires burned so quickly that firefighters stationed a few blocks away stood no chance of saving the original house. Some of the fires spread to two and three homes, destroying houses occupied by seniors. Four blazes were so fierce that they prompted second alarms.
We’ve documented the arsons since they began May 20, when five houses and an apartment building were intentionally set ablaze.
Authorities had information on the suspect as early as June 6 but firefighters couldn’t get police or arson investigators to respond because both are drastically understaffed.
All photos by 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.