not all those who wander are lost

Last night we lost a precious part of Detroits Automotive history. The City of Detroit owned Studebaker Plant and the connected Piquette Market were lost in a 5 alarm fire.
The Studebaker company occupied this facility from 1910 to 1932.
For a higher resolution collection of photos of the Mighty DFD – click HERE
[df wrote: Here are several links that people submitted of imagecopyrighted from the fire last night that I am adding on now so everyone can see eachothers work. Special thanx to Cooper for the heads up on the fire, without which I woulda missed it entirely !] Urban Tiki Race Bannon DetroitArts

I arrived just after sunrise to a scene that looked like the fires of hell – or Viet Nam or Baghdad. Beruit?
How about Detroit in 1967.

The steel frame is melted and twisted from the immense heat – the Studebaker structure was built just before the Kahn brothers innovation of re-enforced concrete. Without the concrete, fire causes the steel to lose its tempered strenghth, and the rest of the structure will cave in.

This is what the fire looked like headed west on my way into New Center.

The gas main in front of Piquette Market exploded wiping away the entire market section and showering bricks and debris on the surronding buildings. Look carefully and you will see the immense heat turned the gas main pipe into glowing molten metal.

In the background you’ll see 411 Piquette which is the Medical Records building. This is where most Detroit area hospitals store current medical records. This was saved by DFD

Next to the Medical Records building is the precious Ford Piquette Plant – Henry Fords original Model T productin facility. This block also caught fire, but was saved by the DFD.

This is the side of Fords Piquette plant – the construction predates Albert Kahns “Crystal Palace” design in Highland Park and is extremely vulnerable to fire as it is made of thick timber construction below the brick facade.

Piquette Market just recieved a multi-ton load of meat products yesterday. Along with the market were several artists lofts in this part of the block. For those of you who know about Piquette Market and its owner – he risked his life to save every Piquette guard dog inside. The homeless who sleep in the Studebaker portion were probably not so lucky.

Somehow certain local news personalitys reported that it was “perhaps started by squatters”. Well, I doubt any squatters were lighting fires to stay warm on a balmy Detroit summer night. Witnesses I spoke to reported multiple spontanious and simultanious ignition points. Squatters my ass.

This entire post is dedicated to the Mighty Detroit Fire Department who risked life and limb to extinguish this block and to save the surrounding historical structures.
I want someone from the Mayors Administration to say that they cant AFFORD these people now.
This is ZIGDFD and his pals. Zig – drop me an email and I will mail you a cd of all photos and film I shot this morning.

If any other DFD are interested I will also send you copies.

If there is one lesson I learned on that apocalyptic September morning in 2001, its that when the shit goes down it will NOT be the Federal Government nor the President nor the Army nor local government, Governor, Mayor or anybody else like that who will come to our rescue. It will be fellow Americans like the Detroit Fire Department who will lay their lives down to save ours. I can barely comprehend that type of dedication, and I need to constantly remind myself who the real heroes are. It wont be the President or Congress rushing into a collapsing building to save human lives – it will be fellow Americans like these people. God bless them for that.

Over 150 DFD responded to the 5 alarm fire – these guys all look exausted after battling this blaze all night long.

Look – the Pistons and all our popular heroes are pretty cool, but I’d like to see a parade sometime for the DFD and EMS. Rather than layoffs and bullshit exuses.

So many pumpers and ladder crews I couldnt keep it all straight.

If today is not an example of why these men and women are ESSENTIAL BEFORE ALL OTHER SERVICES I do not know what is. I dont not want to live through a terrorist attack with not enough first responders. Detroit without its full DFD/EMS will be helpless. I say we need more – and they all need raises. Even at the cost of a few administrators or counsel members.

Next time you are at the bar or pop open a cold one at home – drink a toast to the Mighty DFD. These people may save your life some day soon. Or your family’s, or mine.

28 Responses to STUDEBAKER RIP

  • Those are great pictures, Im from San Diego and I like Detroit, great web site, right on

  • Thank you VERY much Bill – and yes, they were living dogs not painted ones.
    In the Studebaker end was indeed a pile of “Pity Puppy” painting prints by “GIG”- those I imagine perished in the fire – hahaha !

  • You mentioned guard dogs, were they paintings or our hairy friends. If they were the living barking type my hats off to this guy.
    Back in the 70’s I was Pepsico’s corporate phototographer, your shots are great indredible.
    Bill Glass

  • dan zig is my brother. what a hero! lots of love from nola!!!! keep it safe

  • I’m betting it wasn’t spontaneous combustion. Maybe it was Kwame time, you know without the posse of police officers. Sometimes he may not be able to help himself when floating through the hood at night.

  • what a shame! as always, tho, wonderful pix that bring me back home.
    any word on how this happened?

  • Those images are awesome and so sad at the same time.

  • Most if not all of the Packard Plant is steel-reinforced concrete structure, faced with brick. I’m sure there’s lots of flammable crap inside, though.
    I first drove by the Studebaker plant earlier this month. Thought, “huh, that’s a neat-looking factory.” Now it’s gone.

  • Thanks, dFunk — the perfect morning-after shots. Your sentiment is shared by ALL of us, my friend.

  • Damn. An excellent tribute to everyday heros.
    Quite a coincidence that a city owned building would happen to be the site of a five alarm fire.

  • Great pics and commentary.
    I will indeed be raising my glass in honor of the DFD tonight.
    Good job guys.

  • Would the Packard Plant even burn to the ground? Is is concrete and steel or some other frame work?
    I was all around Detroit today and didn’t even know about this until I logged on to dfunk. Man, maybe I should turn the news on. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t- it may make me sad.

  • Thanx for that link RB, Im checking those out right now.
    I have HTML turned off on comments because i get whacked really hard with spammers otherwise.

  • Thanx everybody for the compliments..
    jim – I do believe that Studebaker was indeed on Kwames “hit list”. If I were a betting man, I would expect the Packard Plant to go up next.
    I will have a video clip of this mornings aftermath ready tomorrow, and tonight i will be recieving footage my brother-in-law shot last night from the interior courtyards during the beginning of the fire. That will be edited and put up soon as well.
    D’arts – great photos ! ! I didnt learn of the fire until this morning because i went to sleep right when it started. (btw, you only have to submit comments once, I have to approve them to stop spam comments)
    Gilda – working on your website as we speak !!

  • Sorry, thought I could hyperlink
    Go to
    hope you enjoy, these aftermath shots are sublime

  • fabulous pictures. wonderful. I am so proud of you and your work. it is essential for our continued love and understanding of our city

  • I smell foul play. Is this how kwame is getting the destruction fix he needs?

  • Didn’t Kwame say that buildings will come down and that people wouldn’t like the way they finally become dust?
    It is just insane how government bodies take for granted Fire, Police and EMS. No other city employee has nearly as dangerous a job day-in, day-out. Considering how relative little (compared do the duties of the job) the majority of these jobs pay, it is amazing that people are willing to perform these jobs.
    At the rate that most of the Metropolitan Detroit’s city departments are going, there will be few fire or police departments. Soon, cities may just hire Guardian Security to patrol streets and enforce laws and ask that all house holds have a bucket handy.

  • Great pics!
    For more images go to:

  • Amazing photos. I agree completely with your thoughts on the DFD.
    What a shame to lose that building.

  • Love that double deuce shot!!!
    Want to see shots from the night before?
    Go to…
    "Burn’n Down to the Blueprints "

  • Damn near brought a tear to my eye.

  • Excellent pics homie! Maximum respect goes out to the DFD. I wish I would have taken some shots of the place before it went up in smoke…

  • You’ve got a very talented eye. Thanks for the excellent photos and commentary. More thanks to the DFD.

  • Great photos. Great men fighting fires.

  • These pictures are awesome. So sorry that a historical building had to burn to see that the DFD is a necessity in this town. Man, those guys are the greatest!!!!

  • Thanks, detroitfunk. Very much.
    We love you, DFD.

  • Those photos are astonishing, especially number two and the close-ups. You’re the man!

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