Rescue efforts underway after downtown high-rises lose power, stranding people

GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling
GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling

At least two dozen firefighters and several ambulances rushed to downtown Detroit after several high-rise buildings in downtown lost power, trapping people in elevators. 

Extra help was called after people began complaining of health problems and trouble breathing inside congested elevators at the 73-story GM Renaissance Center, One Detroit Center, the Riverfront Towers and several other high-rises. At least four injuries were reported.

The outage began shortly after 4 p.m., prompting what has been an exhaustive rescue by firefighters.

DTE said it is trying to fix the outage as quickly as possible. Power was restored to most buildings at 6 p.m.

So many firefighters were downtown that dispatchers couldn’t send a rescue squad to a reported house fire on Detroit’s east side.

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.

  • banmar

    Ugh, having to walk all the way down sucksl. (And I don’t just say that because I’m fat and crippled, I saw that because there are far more stairs in emergency stairwells than one would think there would be. I spent the 15 years of my financial services career with American Express across the street from the WTC, before and after, and though I was on the train heading under the Hudson when the second plan hit (no one really knew what to think of the first one), we had to practice evacuating the building twice and once we had the earthquake that made that tower swing like a pendulum. Stairways ran around all four walls and it seemed like forever until we were out. I’m not sure how the emergency stairs are at the River Center Towers and the RenCen, but if the air conditioning is off and Bast forbid there’s an actual fire, there is very little that can be done to improve the air quality in those stairwells.

  • Mike C

    Good job by DTE restoring power in less than 2 hours!

  • Posey

    Can you tell us the complete list of affected buildings?

    • Oliver Lobley

      From the DTE map, it looked like everything from the Ren Cen down to 150 W Jefferson. All the lights up to Cobo were out (Cobo seemed fine…all the screens out front were on) and we had to leave the ren cen (tower 400) by the stairwell. It did seem at about 430 or so that they had restored partial elevator service

      • Posey

        Thanks!