February: Fires broke out in 163 structures, killing at least 5 people as rigs break down

Red=Suspicious; Yellow=Unknown or other

The following is based on dispatch reports, run sheets, interviews, 911 calls and onsite inspections. It’s part of our yearlong examination of the beleaguered Fire Department and the devastating impact on the city’s neighborhoods. 

A woman died in this house fire, but two strangers saved the lives of a woman and toddler. Steve Neavling/MCM
A woman died in this house fire on Marcus on , but two strangers saved the lives of a woman and toddler. Steve Neavling/MCM

First, the good news: Detroit had fewer structure fires in February than any month in the past two years.

Now the bad news: Fires burned longer and caused more damage because of inoperable hydrants and the rapidly declining condition of the city’s aging, long-neglected fleet of fire engines and ladder trucks.

According to dispatch reports, 15 rigs broke down on the way to fires or at the scene. And firefighters were stymied by at least 16 broken hydrants.

At least five people were killed, and more than a dozen civilians and firefighters were injured.

Fires broke out in 134 houses, 13 apartment buildings, 15 commercial buildings and one camper. This does not include the dozens of fires in garages, cars and garbage bins.

Of the 163 structure fires, 74 were suspicious or caused by arson.

Below is a list of every structure in February. Motor City Mapping, a nonprofit effort to document every parcel in Detroit, is posting photos of every house and building damaged by fire. Check out their interactive map, a technology by Detroit-based Loveland Technologies.

C=Chief
E=Engine
L=Ladder truck
S=Squad
HM=Hamtramck
HP=Highland Park
Box alarm: One chief, two engines, one ladder truck and a squad. 

2/1

Time: 11:17 p.m.
Address: 16906 Woodbine
Building type: House
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: Small fire handled by the first arriving engine and ladder truck.
Companies: E54, L26

2/2

Time: 12:13 a.m.
Address: 10083 Aurora
Building type: House
Preliminary cause: Unknown
Details: Fire in a two-story house.
Companies: L17, E40, S4, C2, E42
Companies clear scene: 2:19 a.m.

Images via Motor City Mapping and Google Maps.
Images via Motor City Mapping and Google Maps.

Time: 12:43 a.m.
Address: 15355 Steel
Building type: House
Occupancy: Vacant
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details:  The house was engulfed when firefighters arrived. An extra engine was called. Firefighters took a defensive posture, letting the house burn while protecting the nearby properties. It took Ladder 27 17 minutes to arrive because of the long distance and snow. Engine 59 couldn’t dump its monitor because it wasn’t working. The house collapsed. Power lines were toppled.
Companies clear scene: 3:10 a.m.
Companies: C4, S1, E30, L27, E53, E59

Time: 2:33 a.m.
Address: 16611 Meyers
Building type: Commercial
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: Chief 4 was finishing a nearby fire when he was called to this – a fire in a commercial building. The first engine to arrive took 13+ minutes because of the long distance and heavy snow. L18 arrived 19 minutes after being called. By then, the squad warned that the fire was spreading to a second building. The building collapsed.
Companies: E44, E54, S5, L18, C4, E39
Fire out: 5:18 a.m.

Time: 2:58 a.m.
Address: 15252 Gratiot
Building type: Commercial
Occupancy: Unknown
Preliminary cause: Unknown
Details: Two extra companies were called for help. The building collapsed.
Companies: C9, E50, E60, S6, L23, E46, E41

Time: 8:25 a.m.
Address: 9223 Winthrop
Building type: House
Occupancy: Vacant
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: Engine 55 was sent alone to investigate a possible rekindle. The house was severely damaged in a fire in mid-January. After spotting a fire, the engine requested a box alarm. By the time the extra companies arrived, they needed extra manpower.
Companies: E55, L27, C2, E53, S1, E42
Companies clear scene: 9:37 p.m.

Time: 10:20 a.m.
Address: 20080 Southfield Rd.
Building type: House
Occupancy: Vacant
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: Originally reported as a vacant house, the home was occupied, and everyone was safely out when firefighters arrived. Search of house completed at 10:44 a.m.
Companies: E53, E59, C4, S5, L26

Firefighters rescued a man from this boarded-up house at 18805 Dean.
Firefighters rescued a man from this boarded-up house at 18805 Dean.

Time: 12:55 p.m.
Address: 18805 Dean
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Unknown
Details: The house was engulfed when firefighters arrived. EMS was requested for a possible occupied house at 12:57 p.m. Firefighters rescued one victim at 1:06 p.m. “Get a blanket on this guy, some kind of protection from the snow,” the chief said while waiting for EMS. At 1:09 p.m., an arson investigator was en route, which is routine for fatal fires. Dispatch gave a 10-minute ETA for an ambulance at 1:10 p.m. The fire was out at 1:12 p.m. “Can you have them step it up,” the chief asked of EMS. “We have CPR in progress.” At 1:17 p.m., the chief alerted dispatch that the victim had a pulse. EMS (Superior) arrived at 1:18 p.m. and transported the victim at 1:22 p.m. The house had an illegal electrical hookup. The Fire Department and mayor’s office have declined to say whether the victim survived.

Companies: E44, E56, L18, S3, C8, HM1
Fire out: 2:17 p.m.
Time: 1:17 p.m.
Address: 11075 Worden, 48224
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: At 1:24 p.m., the first firefighters arrived and called for EMS because the house was occupied. An extra fire engine was sent for help. A search of the house was completed at 1:33 p.m.
Companies: E46, S7, E50, L23, C9, E60
Fire out: 2:13 p.m.

2/3

Time: 2:30 a.m.
Address: 6161 Crane
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: All the occupants were safely out of the house.
Companies: C9, L23, E41, E46, S3
Fire out: 3:28 a.m.

Time: 6:56 a.m.
Address: 15377 Robeson
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Intentional
Details: EMS requested for possible people in the house. All civilians were out when firefighters arrived.
Companies: C4, E30, E53, L26, S5

Time: 8:14 a.m.
Address: 333 W. Fort
Building type: Office building
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause:
Details: Fire reported in the basement of an office building following an explosion. Dispatch warned that there have been numerous manhole explosions in the area of Congress and Cass. More manhole covers blew off while firefighters were there. Firefighters cordoned off area between Cass and Woodward at Fort. “We need power shut off in the entire building,” a chief said. A second alarm was called. Damage was minimal.
Companies:
Fire out: C1, E1, E27, L20, S2
Second Alarm: C7, 203, E9, E17, S4, L7

Time: 4:35 p.m.
Address: 18065 Ohio
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Unknown
Details: Started as a still alarm, with E30 going alone. The lone occupant was out safely. The chief reported that the fire was under control at 4:52. A complete search was conducted.
Companies: E30, E40, S5, L17, C4
Companies clear scene: 5:55 p.m.

2/4

Time: 9:42 a.m.
Address: 7819 Minock
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Combustible too close
Details: One civilian injured
Companies: C2, E53, E57, L27, S1

Time: 4:17 p.m.
Address: 200 E. Greendale 
Building type: House
Occupancy: Unknown
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: Firefighters performed an interior attack on a fire in the attic and first floor. The basement was flooded, so firefighters couldn’t check there for victims.
Companies: E56, C8, S5, L18, E44
Fire out: 4:42 p.m.
Companies clear scene: 5:26 p.m.

Time: 4:32 p.m.
Address: 6368 Walden
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Short circuit
Details: A resident came into Engine 34’s quarters to say there was a house fire. Firefighters confirmed the fire and called for a ladder truck for help.
Companies: L22, E34
Companies clear scene: 4:55 p.m.

2/5

14855 Holmur
Fire gutted this house at 14855 Holmur.

Time: 2:25 a.m.
Address: 14855 Holmur
Building type: House
Occupancy: Vacant
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: Engine 40 arrived at 2:28 a.m. and reported the house was engulfed. Squad 5 requested an additional fire engine for help. The fire was under control at 3:04 p.m.
Companies: S5, E30, L17, C8, E40, E42
Fire out: 3:37 a.m.

Time: 3:58 a.m.
Address: 8063 Greenlawn
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: A ladder truck and fire engine were called to check on a fire. When the engine arrived, firefighters found a house fire. Chief 2 arrived about 15 minutes after being called.
Companies: E55, E34, S4, L22, C2

Time: 4:03 a.m.
Address: 19818 Cooley
Building type: 1-story house
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: The first arriving engine found a large fire inside a one-story house. EMS and an extra company were requested. Chief 4 requested police at 4:18 a.m. after the homeowner said there were shots fired just prior to the fire. Police arrived 7 minutes later.
Companies: C4, L26, S1, E59, E54, E57

An arsonist set this new house ablaze at 4748 Maryland.
An arsonist set this new house ablaze at 4748 Maryland.

Time: 3:06 p.m.
Address: 4748 Maryland
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: Firefighters requested EMS at 3:13 p.m. for injured civilian. A fire started in the garage and spread to the house. EMS arrived at 3:21 p.m. – an 8-minute response.
Companies: L31, C6, S6, E58, E52, E41
Fire out: 3:36 p.m.

Time: 9:32 p.m.
Address: 18481 Sussex
Building type: House
Occupancy: Vacant
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: When firefighters first arrived, they could smell smoke in the area. Squad 1 found the house fire about 45 seconds later. At 9:40 p.m., firefighters said the house appeared to be vacant. Extra manpower was sent at 9:40 p.m. The chief said the fire, which was confined largely to the basement, was under control at 9:55 p.m. Engine 53’s lines froze.
Companies: C4, L26, E53, S1, E59, E30.
Companies clear scene: 10:12 p.m.

2/6

Time: 4:35 a.m.
Address: 4748 Maryland
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: Dispatch sent an engine and ladder truck to what appeared to be a rekindle. The original fire was the afternoon before. The dispatcher warned at 4:37 p.m.: “There may be someone inside the rekindle.” When firefighters arrived, they asked for more help because the house was engulfed. At 4:47 p.m., firefighters took a defensive posture. The chief said, “We have a witness on the scene who saw somebody set the fire and run.” A full search was never possible because the house collapsed.
Companies: L31, E52, E58, S6, C6

Two brothers died after firefighters removed them from the second floor of this house at 8221 Lyford.
Two brothers died after firefighters removed them from the second floor of this house at 8221 Lyford. Steve Neavling/MCM

Time: 4:56 a.m.
Address: 8221 Lyford
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Unknown
Details: Two young brothers died as a result of this fire. It was reported as three children trapped inside a burning house. Firefighters removed two victims from the smoke-filled house. The chief requested an extra fire engine at 5:04 a.m. At 5:14 a.m., the chief said all of the victims were out of the house. The chief requested arson at 5:26 a.m. The two kids later died.
Companies: E46, E50, L23, S3, E41, C9
Companies clear scene: 5:52 p.m.

Time: 6:37 a.m.
Address: 20009 Strasburg
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Suspicious
Details: EMS was requested for standby when firefighters were called. Two additional fire engines were sent. A fire hydrant malfunctioned. An illegal electricity hookup was found.
Companies: S3, C9, L23, E50, E60, E56, E46

Time: 1:52 p.m.
Address: 18717 Robeson
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Unknown
Details:
Companies: C4, L26, E30, S1, E59, E53

Time: 8:41 p.m.
Address: 2233 Elmhurst
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Unknown
Details: Dispatched informed firefighters that EMS was requested at 8:44 p.m. for people possibly inside the house. Firefighters rescued a dog. A third engine was called for help at 8:48 p.m. EMS and E35 arrived at 8:56 p.m. The basement was flooded.
Companies: S5, E39, C8, E44, E35, L17
Fire out: 9:03 p.m.
Companies clear scene: 9:35 p.m.

Time: 11:31 p.m.
Address: 12086 Glenfield
Building type: House
Occupancy: Occupied
Preliminary cause: Short circuit
Details: EMS was requested at the onset for an injured civilian. Extra company requested at 11:37 p.m. All occupants were safely out of the house. Fire was under control at 11:57 p.m. E50 was out of service after the fire with frozen lines.
Companies: E46, E50, L23, C9, S6, E52
Fire out: 12:11 a.m.
Companies clear scene:

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  • banmar

    Just out of curiosity, does the DFD have truck repair personnel on their payroll or do they have contractors on premises to repair rigs? The DFD undoubtedly has some fine truck mechanics on staff, but using a responsible union contractor team with a project labor agreement that allows for the training of individuals who are going to be the next generation of highly-trained fire vehicle mechanics with on site 24/7. Contract labor have the ability to locate and purchase parts from suppliers with whom the DFD either doesn’t have a relationship or has stiffed in the past and they can call in specialists much more quickly to address more complex problems to get the rigs back on the road. 24/7 coverage can and should be negotiated in order to fix DFD assets as quickly as possible. I’m not usually a fan of outsourcing, but as this can be done locally, absorb current DFD employees and help the DPD keep the rigs on the road for public safety.

  • bebow

    The city had better hire additional demolition contractors and pick up the pace with the coming wave of foreclosures.