Suspicious fire burns 4 houses on healthy block in southwest Detroit

fire gilbert otis
All photos by Steve Neavling.

It was a healthy block full of families and occupied houses in southwest Detroit.

But on Tuesday evening, a suspicious fire broke out inside a home under rehab and spread to three adjacent houses on Gilbert and Otis as families looked on in horror.

Neighbors watch four houses burn on a block in southwest Detroit. Photos by Steve Neavling.

Two of the houses were being rehabbed, and another was occupied.

“The house was close to being done,” said Martin Munoz, who spent a lot of money fixing up a house he bought in the tax-foreclosure auction. “It was a nice house.”

The fire broke out shortly before 8 p.m. By 8:08 p.m., the flames extended to three other houses, gutting two of them.

fire gilbert otis_0053“This is horrible,” said Margaret Ruiz, standing next to her young child, as 28 firefighters surrounded the homes to prevent the fire from spreading. “This was one of the nicest blocks in the area.”

No injuries were reported.

In the past 48 hours, fires burned 19 houses, six commercial buildings and two apartments.

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.

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