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.
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“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.

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