Tenant eradicating bed bugs believed to have started 3-alarm blaze

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The third floor of this apartment was gutted by fire. Photos by Steve Neavling.

Three firefighters were injured while battling a three-story apartment building blaze that officials believe started when a tenant tried to set bed bugs on fire.

The third-alarm fire broke out in the Ramblewood Apartments at 12635 Outer Drive near Lahser on the city’s west side this afternoon.

Firefighters had trouble extinguishing the fire and searching for stranded residents because they could only get one hose in the building when they first arrived.

“We searched the building and got everyone out,” Senior Chief Jack Wiley said. “We had trouble getting water into the facilities because there was only one way in, and we found a couple of other ways where the gates were locked.”

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The severity of the firefighter injuries was unclear late this afternoon. One of the firefighters was injured when a roof collapsed on him, Wiley said.

Firefighters were told the fire started by a tenant setting bed bugs on fire on the third floor.

“We still have that part under investigation,” Wiley said.

Wiley downplayed water-pressure issues, but firefighters at the scene said they couldn’t get enough pressure to knock down the fire at first.

About 40 people lived in the building. No civilian injuries were reported.

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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

    So they found egress into the area where the gate was locked, but didn’t drive right through them?

    • Klann Killa

      This isn’t some Hollywood stunt movie son. You don’t just “drive right through” locked gates in $500,000 pieces of fire apparatus in post-bankruptcy Detroit, OR ANYWHERE!!!! If you never open your mouth, people will never know how stupid you really are. Smarten up son, you sound stupid. Hopefully you haven’t dropped any kids on the planet.

      • banmar

        First of all, I’m a woman who is childless by choice. Second, as I’m the mayor of a town that purchases this type of equipment every few years, these rigs are not delicate Lamborghinis. If your rig is in good condition (mine are) and you need egress into a driveway and all that’s stopping you is a chain-link gate with a garden variety chain and a Master keyed padlock, yeah, you do drive through it, especially if you see people trying to get out. Given that Detroit’s rigs are rather frail (not a jab, just a sigh for equipment used and abused and not properly maintained with the people’s tax dollars), maybe they could have just driven up to the gate and use bolt cutters to get that gate open.

        Let me give you a piece of advice, son. When you have to sit there and sign off on the purchase of a half-million (and that’s cheap) rig and look at all the other priorities in town, you come talk to me. I’ve done it. I’ve defended it. Public safety — cops, fire, EMS — are more important to me than garbage trucks and other public works projects, because people’s lives depend on these items. And until you see a volly climb through a window on an aerial ladder to get a premature baby and her oxygen tank from a burning building, you understand why so many shows are based on cops and firefighters. No, it’s not like a TV show, son — it’s the closest thing to a miracle you’ll ever see, and sometimes, it is a miracle.
        I don’t need schooling on this. I know how amazing firefighters are, and the people who pay taxes in Detroit deserve a truck that can back up, build some momentum, and go through those gates. It’s a tragedy and disgraceful that your rigs are so frail they can’t do this. Hopefully this will change and random seatbelt components won’t be holding up the engine of the truck with a failed motor mount.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          they can do it just fine. a cop car could do it. I would back into it, and not dent the hood, or radiator, and drive the car back to the depot, and tell them to put a new plastic bumper cover on it from the parts pile, and it will take 1-2 labor hours. Or rattle can the scuff I put in it.

          Who cares, cops jump curbs with cop cars, then pit maneuver people, drive across fields bottoming out.

          If cop cars can do that, a 20 ton truck can bump open a mild steel gate.

          Just as a reference, 2-4,000 lb cars knock over telephone poles, and light poles all the time.

          You can idle up to a stop sign in a parking lot, and it just shears off like its nothing. I have done that in a lot with no lights, and it didn’t even scrap the paint off though did crease it on my trucks factory bumper.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        You would not want to do it at 30 mph, but creep up to it, and just idle up to it gentle, and then slowly increase throttle, it will pop a gate open with minimal damage.

        It would not need to go to a shop, it would just have some scuffs.

        If its just a chain, a $40-60 bolt cutter from lowes will last many many years, and pop a master lock or a chain like its nothing.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        KK, How long do you think it will take the Fire Marshals office on this one? Is there an average time for reports in their office?

  • Billy Blake

    Stupid is as stupid does

  • Donald E. Hodge

    It just go`s to show you that it only takes one thoughtless moron to destroy many peoples lives. Does anybody know who the Firefighter was that got injured?

    • muckraker_steve

      There were three who were injured. One of them is still in the hospital, sadly. I believe he is from a squad company, but I don’t know his name yet. Will let you know and update with a story. Wishing him the very best.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Thank you, Steve.