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SW Detroit Building’s 3rd Fire in 6 Months “Suspicious,” Fire Authorities Say


Officials are labeling an apartment fire that occurred last weekend in Southwest Detroit as “suspicious,” but investigators have yet to determine the cause.

No injuries were reported from the fire, according to Detroit Fire Chief Dale Bradley — apparently the unit in which the fire started was vacant — but the building’s other residents were forced to race to safety.

“Me and my kids were sleeping and I heard a loud noise, and I’m scared,” Katie Reeves, one of the residents who escaped the fire, told “My door is metal, so I looked through the peephole thing and there was smoke, so I looked out and the whole house was burning.”

Detroit firefighters were called to the 8300 block of Rathbone Street at 4:11 a.m. (earlier reports had indicated they arrived around 3:30 a.m., but that information has been updated). They were able to extinguish the blaze and the tenants have now been allowed back into the building.

But this is the third time in the past six months that firefighters have responded to the same building, and the fires keep starting in the same apartment.

The best way for residents in multi-unit buildings to protect themselves from fires is to ensure that they have working smoke detectors, Detroit fire officials have said on multiple occasions. Fire sprinklers, which are required in some types of buildings, can also be an important safety feature and can reduce damage from fires once they start.

It’s vitally important that all residents review emergency response guidelines, as well as educate themselves on fire prevention techniques to use in and around the home. That’s a particularly good idea heading into the holiday weekend and grilling season in general (about 63% of the U.S. population grills monthly), as U.S. fire departments deal with over 8,000 fires each year caused by grills or barbecues.

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