As Detroit burns, all of America mourns

Detroit is dead…


Not really, but if you have been paying attention to newscasters and pundits, you would think that Detroit has kicked the bucket.


In a way, it has. Detroit has filed for bankruptcy. It has lost its freedom, its independence.


The Motor City is a ghost town, chockfull of abandoned buildings (over 80,000!) – factories, warehouses, etc. Due to this abandonment, arson has plagued the city for decades. Whether it was the riots in the sixties or the “Devils Night” fires, Detroit has an intimate relationship with the color crimson. This Independence Day was no different. In addition to fireworks, there were numerous fires.


In the article, “As Detroit breaks down, scourge of arson burns out of control,” Steve Neavling of Reuters writes, “As firefighters attacked flames raging in two adjacent vacant houses, they called for backup equipment that never came. Five blazes had broken out in 25 minutes, all suspected arsons, and the Detroit Fire Department, where budget cuts have led to a crippling shortage of equipment and manpower, could provide no extra help.”


Yes, you read that right. There were five deliberate blazes under half an hour. Not only that, the Detroit Fire Department could not provide backup. The few firefighters were left to battle the fires on their own. In a city where there are, on average, 14 arsons a day, firefighters are always in need of backup. City officials have thrown these firefighters into the fire…literally.


Detroit is doing its best to crawl out of the economic grave. The moment its Rust Belt hand grabs the dirt, hoping to crawl back into life, a thrill-seeking arsonist tosses a Molotov cocktail at some vacant building setting it ablaze, and Detroit falls back into its grave.


Many factors have contributed to Detroit’s fall from grace and there will be constant debate regarding the exact causes, but one thing we can be sure of is that arsonists are not helping. In fact, they are making the situation worse. A city cannot make a comeback, or thrive for that matter, if arsonists are setting half of it on fire.


At John Michael Agosti & Associates, Chicago’s finest arson investigators, we are determined to see the Rust Belt return to its former glory. It starts with determining the causes of arson. By understanding the causes, we can combat arsonists.


Just like the mythological phoenix, Detroit will rise again, out of the ashes of its abandoned buildings.




*Image courtesy of Andrey Vostrikov