Last night I witnessed the most insane set of fires I have ever seen. I can only compare it to scenes of wildfires that we see in places like California. High winds combined with an aged power grid infrastructure, and the endless tinder of thousands of abandoned houses, led to a nightmare scenario of arcing power lines, burning houses, and dancing embers. All this, combined with record low precipitation rates in the last month led to an explosion of fires that finally totaled 85 before it was all over.
For the first time in its history since the 1967 Detroit riots, the Detroit Fire Department used every person, and every piece of equipment simultaneously last night. In an unprecedented move, the DFD chief called on neighboring communities for help. The City of Dearborn responded (to the fires in the western side of the city) , and before I left the scene, the Warren Fire Department had arrived. I am proud to say that my tiny community of Harper Woods was asked to help, and we were there. We are nearly bankrupt like every other community around here, but last night was not a time for dithering over money. I will make sure my City Counsel gets a letter commending the decision to send our fire department. The City of Detroit should know that the City of Harper Woods has its back now, and in the future.
Suburb vs. City naysayers take note: I witnessed METRO-DETROIT in action last night.
At one point, firefighters started kicking in front doors and bring out people who were somewhat unaware of what was coming their way. I saw people come out of their houses surprised that the fires were still going, only to turn and see flames in their backyard.
I do not believe I have ever seen so much fire fighting equipment in one place at any time in my life. Sure enough when I checked the radio news on the way home, the Mighty Detroit Fire Department was 100% deployed last night, to the point of not having enough fire fighters to man equipment. This has not happened since that hot summer of 1967.
By the time I left the scene before midnight last last night, the DFD had been all but physically exhausted, and the residents that live in the neighboring homes, and on neighboring streets came out and demanded to assist the fire fighters with the heavy work. I saw civilians moving hoses and ladders, and I am talking about quite a large number of people. It seemed like the entire neighborhood was on fire at one time – and when I got home and heard more news, I learned that this was a fact. 80+ structures in about 8 hours.
THIS is what MetroDetroit is really about, the things I saw last night – I have personally never witnessed such a powerful multi-community effort coming together against all odds. On a night of pure hell.