DETROIT (WXYZ) — Fire officials say a man accused of setting several homes on fire in the Virginia Park area of Detroit and in Highland Park is in custody.
They say 30-year-old Andrael Davis is linked to almost a dozen fires. He’s charged with 10 counts of arson at homes, garages and commercial trash cans.
Concerned neighbors told 7 Action News they can go to bed with peace of mind now that a person is in custody.
“We feel much safer because we didn’t know who was doing this and when it was going to happen again,” community activist and Detroit resident Julian Witherspoon said.
Most of the fires were at vacant houses in Virginia Park, the neighborhood that Witherspoon has spent his entire life.
He says he saw one of the structures on Taylor Street in flames.
“The roof was totally engulfed in flames and we were also concerned about the residents next door,” Witherspoon said.
Taylor Street is just one of the many locations that Interim Detroit Fire Commissioner Chuck Simms said was set on fire.
“This was a yearlong investigation by the Detroit Arson Task Force,” he said.
It’s been a year filled with worry and neighbors living on the edge.
“They were concerned about not only their home on catching on fire but having their children in the home at the time of the fire,” Witherspoon said.
Witherspoon is also the president of the Virginia Park Citizen District Council. He says seeing and hearing about random fires brought back childhood memories of the Detroit riots.
“It brought me back to 1967 when I was 10-year-old and all of a sudden, everything is going up in flame,” he said.
Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield says the community is responsible for putting out these flames. They took a stand and didn’t tolerate what was taking place.
“Today is justice for this community. It shows the importance of making sure the community is engaged and raising their voices around issues in their community,” Sheffield said.
Witherspoon says it was a collaborative effort between the city and police and fire departments to get the suspected arsonist off the street.
“They always respond to us and they really did a good job this time,” Witherspoon said. “We feel much safer because we didn’t know who was doing this and when it was going to happen again.”