Detroit Arson

One in five houses now stand empty in the city with an estimated total of 33,500 empty homes.

Half the population has left since 1950.

More than a third of the population are unemployed.

Setting fire to houses to claim the insurance and kill off the mortgage is not uncommon in Detroit.

Detroit Fire Departments run on average 30 arson fires a day.

I was heading towards the airport and I heard a firebrick. Sure enough I looked in my rearview mirror and there it was, I pulled to the side and let it pass. I started paying attention to where it was heading, in the distance I saw a large black billow of smoke. I decided since I had enough time I would take a look.

I pulled up and the cops had the road blocked off about 5 houses down from Detroit's most recent arson victim. I quickly pulled off to the side and grabbed a couple of lenses.

I walked right across the street from the house joining a large crowd that had gathered to watch an empty building burn. I started shooting and a young man walked up to me and said something about the house. I looked at him and nodded to receive some more information. He let me know that it was a friends house, they have moved out over a year ago so the house has been abandoned for quite some time. He said the reason why was because the owners of the house started raising the rent too high for them to stay there.

I talked with him a little bit since of course I had seen so many building abandoned but no idea why, there are no stories attached to all of the homes. This family that moved had left of their belongings there since they could not bring them where they were going. He said that he personally boarded up the house and reapplied the boards to the front door every time someone tried to break in.

I could tell that he was really sad about the whole situation, there was nothing he could do about the home he grew up next to.

Arson is a big problem for Detroit. I am not sure why but with all of the abandoned buildings the arsonists are not going to run out of fuel soon. The firefighters who work these fires worked so hard to put out this fire. This house had been abandoned for over a year and they still fought it as if someone was inside. Most of what these men and women do are just arson related fires.

I have the upmost respect for Detroit firefighters. I salute you for doing what you do. As I read in one of your abandoned stations "Tough Times Don't Last, Tough People Do".