Forget Devils’ Night. Fourth of July weekends are far more destructive

The Fourth of July has become the new Devils' Night.
The Fourth of July has become the new Devils’ Night.

Click here to see our live blog of all fires this weekend. 

Devils’ Night has long been synonymous with Detroit’s self-destruction.

But for the past several years, the Fourth of July has replaced Devils’ Night – Oct. 30 – as the most destructive period for fires.

During a 10-hour period on the Fourth of July last year, more than 60 fires broke out in homes, commercial buildings, garages, cars and trash cans, according to data collected by Motor City Muckraker. That’s more fires than the same period during the past two Devils’ Nights combined.

But instead of mobilizing volunteers to patrol neighborhoods like the city has done for decades during Devils’ Night, politicians have been largely silent as fires have raged out of control on the Fourth of July.

But behind the scenes, Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones is preparing for what could be a wild weekend of fires. He has placed five more fire engines and trucks on the road, added more arson units and is collaborating with state fire investigators. In other words, the new commissioner isn’t messing around this year, which should be the last before the city gets new engines and aerial ladder trucks to replace its aging, worn-out fleet. 

Mayor Mike Duggan has credited volunteer patrols with helping dramatically reduce the number of arsons on Devils’ Night. In fact, the slowest Devils’ Night in decades was last year.

Motor City Muckraker will be running a live blog beginning tonight through July 5 to provide a map and details of every fire. 

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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.