July 4th Detroit's new Devil's Night? Fire officials are fighting back against arsonists

Posted at 10:33 PM, Jun 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-01 10:23:49-04

The Detroit Fire Department is gearing up to fight devils intent on setting fires, burning the city. Once a Halloween prank, arson has become a 4th of July holiday epidemic. This year, fire officials are fighting back.

Fire bugs are attracted to Detroit and have been for generations. Starting in the 1970’s, Detroit became a devil’s playground. For decades, Halloween and the days leading up to it brought out the worst of the worst. 

City officials fought back and in 1995, created the Angels’ Night campaign, in which thousands of volunteers began patrolling neighborhoods to protect property. It works and fires declined.

Over the past several years, a new Devil’s Night has emerged around the 4th of July holiday.  Detroit firefighters have been stretched thin as structure after structure burned to the ground. For the first time in years, fire officials are addressing the increased fires around the holiday.

“One of the things we have done is to call in extra manpower.” said Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones. “Additionally we are calling in extra arson investigators so that they can go investigate, talk to neighbors.

Beginning Friday afternoon, the extra rigs will go in service at various fire houses in the city. “We have enough to put five rigs in service.” Union President Mike Nevin told Action News. “Whether they last all night, we still have manpower in the field. They will be deployed at strategic locations and they could move throughout the evening.”

The fire department’s fire marshal division is also working closely with state fire officials to inspect businesses selling fireworks. Already, Detroit firefighters have helped confiscate more than 400 boxes of illegal fireworks.