Detroit blaze rips through 4 houses while ladder truck catches fire

By  – Motor City Muckraker


A massive fire leveled three houses and damaged another on Detroit’s east side this weekend, and one of the city’s most vital ladder trucks caught fire trying to put out the blaze.

It was another chaotic weekend for Detroit firefighters, who battled blazes in six commercial buildings and 14 houses between Friday and Sunday. All but five of the 20 fires were suspicious.

The worst of the fires came shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday at Delta and Fenelon, on a block with just one occupied house.  When the first firefighters arrived about five minutes after they were dispatched, one house was on fire. By 4:18 a.m., flames had spread to four vacant houses.

The chief called a second-alarm, and about 55 firefighters descended on the desolate block, preventing the fire from spreading. But with a shortage of firefighters and rigs, most of the east side was left without fire protection.

At 5:14 a.m., Ladder 17 caught fire while at least one firefighter was on the aerial platform above the house blaze.

“You’re going to have to climb down,” the chief called up to two firefighters in the bucket. “We lost power. The rig is on fire.”

Three houses were leveled and one destroyed in a fire Saturday morning on Delta.

The firefighters safely descended.Three houses were leveled and one destroyed in a fire Saturday morning on Delta.

Detroit Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins said the rig fire was inside the engine compartment and likely didn’t cause significant damage. He expects the ladder – one of the city’s three platforms – to be back in service in a few days.

Three of the four houses are owned by the Detroit Land Bank, which is tasked with overseeing the demolition or sale of thousands of neglected properties.

No one was injured.

One block away on Healy late Sunday night, a suspicious fire broke out in a vacant house.

The Fire Department’s fleet of engines and trucks is in dire shape. So far this year, 31 rigs have broken down on the way to fires or at the scene, according our tally.

We are examining every fire in Detroit this year to chronicle the devastating impact of arsons, budget cuts and mismanagement.

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