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Detroit — Firefighters were on the scene Wednesday morning at a blaze at the Watts Club Mozambique, a long-established male strip club on the city's west side.

Battalion Chief Mike Ridley said firefighters arrived about 6 a.m. to the fire at Fenkell and Cherrylawn.

"It was going pretty good when we got here, coming from the roof," said Ridley, adding crews were taking a defensive posture.

"That's where we just stand back and protect the surroundings," he said. "No one goes in, and we just extinguish the fire (using) these aerial towers that we have in place right now."

Ridley said the fire was under control and there have been no reported injuries.

"We're getting ready to relieve companies," he said shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday. "It will probably be burning for another hour or so."

Ridley said the building most likely will be a total loss. The cause of the fire remains undetermined as firefighters continued to battle the blaze.

"We have no idea how it started," Ridley said.

Anthony Faustina, a neighborhood resident for about 15 years, said many fire hydrants in the area were not functional.

"If those fire trucks did not have the water capacity on them, (the building) would probably just burn all the way to the ground," he said. "It seems like they're trying to do the best they can."

Faustina, whose wife is state Rep. LaTanya Garrett, D-Detroit, said it is a safety concern to have non-functional hydrants.

"I just don't feel safe," he said. "The city should get on it."

Pastor J. O. Rasul leads the New Liberty Apostolic Faith Church across the street from the fire.

He called the neighborhood "poverty-stricken" but said it has been experiencing a gradual turnaround.

"This neighborhood has been coming up out of the rough," he said. "There's a lot of positive things going on in the neighborhood and the people are great."

Rasul said the club across from his church opened in the mid-1980s.

"A lot of customers go in and they have what they consider to be a good time," he said.

It appears the church building is unaffected by the blaze, Rasul said. He was waiting Wednesday morning for it to be safe to go in and assess the church.

"We're a little hurt that we'll have a little more blight in the neighborhood, but we're excited that our church is fine," he said.

The Watts Club Mozambique was established in 1969 by Detroiter Cornelius Watts. The club initially opened as a jazz venue and featured performers, including Peabo Bryson and the O'Jays. But when jazz didn't pay the bills, Watts came up with another idea: a strip club, but with male performers for women.

TGreenwood@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2023

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