Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Fire This Time

So who, in your opinion, is responsible for the Flint fires?


  1. The firefighter's union hired someone to send the mayor a message, and maybe that person is now going a little overboard. Flint's had a low-level arson problem for years, as many rust belt cities do, but the spike in fires at the exact moment the city layed off firefighters because they wouldn't make any concessions is not a coincidence.

  2. I agree with anonymous, and will act as anonymous2. ditto!

    with possible cash in on home-owner insurance copy-cat folks as well

  3. Regardless of the original cause of the spike in fires, it makes sense that there's a copy cat element happening. If you were saddled with an old property you didn't know what to do with and you suddenly saw that people were getting away with torching places all over the city, some people might think "Hmmm, here's a solution to my problem."

  4. has anyone been arrested for any of them? I live out county but follow the flint news and cannot recall reading about anyone charged, which to me is completely baffling. really sad

  5. Just me, but I always thought it was the Land Bank who was behind it. But that's just a knee jerk reaction. I've no experience as to whether it is easier to get rid of burned out houses vs normal houses. I'm sure there's someone on this blog who can prove my hunch is wrong. Please do.

    Perhaps if we listed who benefits from these houses burning we might get somewhere. Of course if it's just random fun for a bored teen, etc... there's no explanation other than it's cool to see things burn.

  6. So who, in your opinion, is responsible for the Flint fires?

    Oh, are the unions getting ready to negotiate? Silly me.

  7. It's odd that there's been no discussion of what if anything the FFD has observed of methods. My understanding is that experienced arsonists frequently have a favorite method, and avoid other methods that are uncertain of outcome (slow starting, might go out or be discovered and put out) or dangerous to themselves. So how many of these fires are being started by someone that knows what they're doing, technique-wise?

    There's also no discussion of videotaping/ photographing the bystanders at fires, and analyzing faces for matchups. Amateur serial arsonists (i.e. doing it for kicks) are said to like to watch their fires.

    Based on news coverage I've seen, it's not clear that anything at all is being done to catch the perps. I hope that's wrong.

  8. It's my understanding that it costs more to clean up a burned property that it does to demolish a regular house. I believe it has something to do with the dumping cost of burned and possibly toxic material, plus the cost of the fire department and other investigations. So the LB is probably losing money when one of its properties gets torched. Plus, numerous burned homes have not been LB properties. Finally, the Jackson Hardy House and the nearby Urban Alternatives House had significant funding in place for continued rehab, so it's hard to see any advantage to burning them.

  9. There is more than one guilty "group" to point an accusing finger at. 1. Disturbed individual(s) in a the Fireman's Union. I wouldn't believe for a second that the average fireman could or would do such a thing endangering themselves,fellow fireman or the public in general public. However mental illness can strike anyone anywhere. 2. Abandoned homeowners. No easier way to get rid of an eyesore than to burn it out. 3. Neighbors of abandoned homes. Sick of years of years of prostitution, drugs, gangs, and graffiti has probably pushed some homeowners over the edge.
    4. Gangs - Flint has been pushed around by gangs for years - just look at the homicide rate, the gangs burn each other out at a weapon of retribution. 5. Teens - I like to blame them for everything. And of course there is always aliens from outer space...lol

  10. I grew up with fires. There was always a house fire in my neighborhood from a drunk husband or pissed off girlfriend. Then the fires hit home-literally. My brother played with matches or the kid next door skipped school and was smoking behind our house. It always terrified me and still does. I won't even have a gas stove because of the open flame. I know the gangs are doing most of it on the east side. My in laws lived there until recently. They saw a lot but they won't talk. Can you blame them? Mama in law visibly shakes and tears up, thankful she got out along with her grand kids. Another chunk is being paid for by someone in the union. It happens in New York or Boston or any other city with problems between the city and the employees. But throw in the unions who think they are the only deserving ones and you get another mess. People will live in terror because they can't or won't do anything to stop it. You can't make people stand up for themselves, care about their city or street or anything similar. They have to find it within themselves. Do you see angry citizens in the streets? The council meetings are almost bare. When I ask what are you doing to make your neighborhood safe, my brother tells me he is too tired, the kids NEVER are outside. He and they just don't care. And so the city burns. The homes turn to ashes, the spirit goes up in smoke, and it continues into another generation.

    As an aside...as much as I hate fire..I do wish a home had burned. Just to get rid of the stench, the horrible memories, so the family could try and go forward. Because if it's not there, I might not dwell on it anymore. Perhaps a personal phoenix would rise from within it and give a small family a forward chance from those ashes.

  11. When I was young, I used to pray that there would be no fires like these, after seeing one after a fire on Third Ave. near Grand Traverse around 1960. I never would have guessed that people would deliberately set them. It's left me cynical about the nature of man in one more way. All of the above are possibilities. Where is the hope that things will get better, that people are not desparate so as to commit these atrocities, for what ever reason? I will continue to pray for our country and the formerly great City of Flint to reverse its decline.

  12. I think it's a combination of arson for hire, copy cats, insurance frauds and random pyro-mania by the many random people roaming the streets in Flint. Same thing happened to Peerless downtown years ago.

    I would not exclude any "institution" from having a direct or indirect hand in the fires.

    If you thought of an institution and then sit yourself in there top office. Think about the most sinister reason you could benefit from burning buildings in Flint. You may find some shocking conclusions.

    Mott, UofM, Land Bank, Citizens Bank, Kettering, Unions, City Employee's, General Motors, Hurly, McLaren, Religious Oranizations ETC.

    Thats a scary halloween story for ya.

  13. I've gotta agree with Rob on that one; there are too many people that could benefit to pin this on just one person or group.

    The first wave were probably a political statement against laying off the firefighters, but I think that has passed. Since there hasn't been any news coverage of people being charged for any of these arson fires, there is this feeling that everyone can get away with it.

    JWilly, I can't imagine that arson investigators are telling the media everything they're doing to catch these people. Going even further, there may have been arrests or convictions, but it might not be public knowledge just yet.

    There was a time when the fires slowed to a trickle, and honestly, there haven't been a ton compared to the first two months of this wave. It's just that they've been much more high-profile lately. Homedale, the two buildings at Chevy and Glenwood (high profile for me, since I drive through there daily), and Garland and University.

    I personally think that Chevy and Glenwood was either the owner (both were behind in taxes) or Kettering: you can't have a pretty 'gateway project' with two boarded up commercial buildings near campus!

    I just wish this destruction would stop. I'm amazed at how different this city looks compared to 2004, when I officially moved from the suburbs to Sunset Drive. So many buildings I admired have been burned down or demolished, and with a few exceptions, I can't see any benefit in their absence.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.