Detroit -- It took three hours and at least 75 firefighters to put down a blaze that gutted the auditorium of the defunct Thomas Cooley High School on Detroit's west side, a fire official said Sunday.
Detroit Fire Department was alerted to the fire at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, said Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell. Smoke was seen coming out of the school on the 15000 block of Hubbell, just south of Fenkell.
But when firefighters arrived, entry to the "heavily boarded" building was difficult, Fornell said.
"Obviously, someone knew how to get their way inside," Fornell said of the fire, which he added appears to be "suspicious."
The fire was centered in the former school's auditorium, which is "dead, smack center" in the middle of the building, Fornell. The blaze was "pretty well involved" by the time firefighters arrived.
"It was a tough fire," Fornell said.
No one was hurt fighting the three alarm fire, but 18 fire companies, consisting of four men each, three battalion chiefs, and a senior chief were on the scene. The fire was put extinguished at 4:15 a.m.
Cooley High was closed by Detroit Public Schools in June 2010. The late Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, and the Fox Theater, was a 1947 alum.