Red=suspicious fires; white=unknown or other
The number of suspicious fires in Detroit rose sharply in April, killing at least one person and damaging or destroying 142 houses, businesses, schools and apartments, a Motor City Muckraker tally of fire data shows.
The fires spread and damaged more than two dozen neighboring houses, in no small part due to delays caused by broken hydrants and malfunctioning rigs.
In April, 14 engines and ladder trucks broke down at the scenes of emergencies or en route to them. About half of the city’s ladder trucks, which are used to rescue people and extinguish large fires, don’t have properly working aerials, and the city has no money to replace them.
In all, fires broke out in 258 houses, businesses and other buildings in April. Nearly half of those – 126 – collapsed or were damaged beyond repair.
Of the structures with known occupancies, 124 were vacant and 112 were occupied.
Fires broke out in 223 houses, 24 commercial buildings, three schools and seven apartments.
A disproportionate number of fires broke out in the zip codes of 48205 and 48210, the highest arson rates have been so far this year. In 48205, which is one of the most violent and abandoned areas of the city, 24 fires broke out in houses and buildings. All but four were suspicious.
In 48210, one of the most neglected, blighted areas in Detroit, 23 fires broke out. All but four were suspicious. Both zip codes have lost about a quarter of their populations since 2000, according to the U.S. Census. The exodus has left behind a lot of vacant houses.
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Later this week we will list information on every fire in April and photos of the aftermath.
This is part of our yearlong series that documents every fire in Detroit. Please consider a contribution to keep the project alive. Other stories:
- Private contractors endanger lives, homes by mishandling hydrants
- Strangers rescue toddler, mom from burning home but can’t reach grandma
- Man dies in house blaze just blocks from recently closed fire station.
- Fire Department wildly underreports arsons to FBI
- More than 220 houses, buildings burn in January; five rigs malfunction
- First week of February: Fires kill 2 brothers burn 26 houses, rigs malfunction
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.