Photo gallery: Capturing the frontline of Detroit’s fire crisis

All photos by Steve Neavling.
All photos by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

For the past three years, Motor City Muckraker photographed fires in Detroit as part of a project to reveal the widespread damage caused by the city’s arson epidemic.

Time and time again, we saw¬†firefighters struggling with broken equipment and hydrants as fires consumed home after home. Even in the face of dramatic budget cuts, Detroit’s firefighters never relented.

More than 10,000 fires broke out in houses, apartments, schools, churches, businesses and other buildings since 2013.

Engine 39.
Engine 39.
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Memorial at the site of a deadly car fire at Carstens Elementary School.
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Neighbors watched as a fire spread to four houses in southwest Detroit.
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A firefighter takes a quick breather after flames tore through two homes on the east side.
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A fire engine and chief vehicle at sunset.
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A firefighter at an apartment fire on W. Chicago.
Detroit's fireboat, the Curtis Randolph, on the Detroit River. All photos by Steve Neavling.
Detroit’s fireboat, the Curtis Randolph, on the Detroit River.
Engine 33's headquarters, where firefighter David Madrigal often worked.
Engine 33’s headquarters, where murdered firefighter David Madrigal often worked.
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Firefighters saved an occupied house from catching fire.
A medic carries a toddler injured in the Marcus St. fire. Photo by Steve Neavling.
A medic carries a rescued toddler who was injured on Marcus Street on the east side.
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Firefighters battled a fire in frigid conditions.
Several houses were destroyed by a fire on Otis Street.
Several houses were destroyed by a fire on Otis Street.
Dante Brown helped save the lives of two children and a mother.
Dante Brown helped save the lives of two children and a mother.
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This abandoned apartment on the west side was set on fire by scrappers, who had planned to return to retrieve metal.
The remains of a burned Heidelberg Project house.
The remains of a burned Heidelberg Project house.
One of the delayed companies was Engine 56. Photo by Steve Neavling.
Engine 56.
This house on the west side stood no chance with a faulty hydrant. Photo by Steve Neavling.
This house on the west side stood no chance with a faulty hydrant.
The historic First Unitarian on Woodward burned to the ground.
The historic First Unitarian on Woodward burned to the ground.
The view from Eminem's childhood bedroom after the house was gutted by fire in 2013.
The view from Eminem’s childhood bedroom after the house was gutted by a fire in 2013.
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Detroit’s understaffed Fire Department makes life more difficult for firefighters.
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Firefighters routinely struggle with water pressure.
Three houses were leveled and one destroyed in a fire on Delta Street.
Three houses were leveled and one destroyed in a fire on Delta Street.

 

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.

  • Jenny Haskell

    It looks like Detroits recovery is pretty much limited to Illitchville!

  • Mary Palmer

    What about all the drug dealers / users gang members who do this dirty work, ? Too scared to cover them, afraid of getting shot ?

  • Donald E. Hodge

    The photo of the gutted house and the broken hydrant shows a powerful statement of where we stand as a city, and what we still need to accomplish. very nice Steve. Thank you.

  • Donald E. Hodge

    The photo of the gutted house and the broken hydrant shows a powerful statement of where we stand as a city, and what we still need to accomplish. very nice Steve. Thank you.