Firefighters in Detroit spent much of their 4th of July weekend battling what's become a horrifying Independence Day tradition in the city over the past few years: widespread arson.
According to local news blog Motor City Muckraker, 140 homes, dumpsters, cars and garages were burned across Detroit and its neighboring communities between July 2nd and 5th. First responders were stretched thin over the weekend due to the sheer volume of fires, many believed to have been deliberately set. Other are thought to be the result of factors such as dry weather, and fireworks. Fire officials were reportedly left without enough aerial ladder trucks to combat the flames in some cases.
According to Motor City Muckraker, at least 45 homes went up in flames. The site also compiled a map of each incident.
The Detroit Fire Marshal's office has yet to respond to Fusion's requests to verify these reports.
Fire has long plagued the Motor City, where vacant homes—a mark of the city's continuing struggles—have become a target for arsonists. A 2015 report from the Detroit News found that homeowner's insurance rates in the city were nearly double that of the rest of the state as a result of deliberately set fires. At the time, the paper estimated that at least 66% of the homes burned between 2010-2013 had yet to be demolished.
For decades the city's infamous "Devil's Night"—where people would set things aflame in anticipation of Halloween—turned Detroit's skies orange. That ignominious pastime was largely contained, however, after the city introduced "Angels' Night" volunteer watches in 1995 to counteract and respond to the urban arson trend—one which has migrated to the summer, where it's taken up residency in and around Independence Day, eclipsing the number of Devil's Night fires for at least the past three years, according to the Muckraker.
Speaking with ABC affiliate WXYZ before the holiday weekend, Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones outlined a plan to both respond to the July 4th fires as they happened, and increase the city's ability to follow up after the flames were put out. "One of the things we have done is to call in extra manpower,” Jones explained. “Additionally we are calling in extra arson investigators so that they can go investigate, talk to neighbors."
Across Twitter, pictures and video illustrated the severity of this long weekend's rash of blazes: