Angels’ Night quietest in 20 years
This has been the quietest Angels’ Night since Detroit began fighting back 20 years ago.
During the first two nights of Angels’ Night, which lasts three days, only 28 fires have been reported, city officials said in a statement Saturday afternoon.
By contrast, there were 66 fires by this point last year.
Detroit is on track to cut the usual number of conflagrations by half, said city officials.
During the past four years, the annual number of fires during the three days hovered between 93 and 97.
And all of this is a long distance from 1984, when 810 fires led to the city and volunteer campaign to quell the infernos.
Mayor Mike Duggan, Fire Commissioner Eric Jones and Police Chief James Craig are scheduled on Sunday to discuss the results of the weekend and the volunteer effort at a news conference. The officials will release fire totals, curfew violators and sponsorships.
City officials were heartened by the fact that, of the 28 fires this year, more than a third didn’t involve houses.
The types of fires, and the number, are occupied structure, 6, vacant structure, 11, trash containers or outside, 10, and garage, one.
The credit for the declining number goes to volunteers like Gary Begley, said city officials.
Begley didn’t wear a cape or mask Friday night — but he did affix a flashing light atop his Dodge Intrepid.
“I’m not Superman or Captain America, but I’m going to save my neighborhood,” said Begley, one of thousands of volunteers patrolling the city. “I’m going to go until I can’t drive anymore.”
Begley made his rounds on Woodmere in southwest Detroit, following a 56-hour workweek power-washing restaurants and other Mexican Village businesses.
Not far from where Begley patrolled, Duggan met with about a dozen volunteers at the Patton Recreation Center. He was flanked by Rich Baird, a top adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder.
“If we can get that again tonight, that would be terrific,” Duggan said about the lack of fires. “We’re covering every corner of the city.”
Organizers at the Patton Center were hoping for more than 140 volunteers Friday night.
Renee Liagkos handed out orange T-shirts inside the center to volunteers who also received flashing lights and food.
Liagkos, 70, a retired General Motors assembly worker, has lived all her life near the recreation center, which sits opposite rows of two-story homes, some occupied, some boarded-up, some covered in graffiti — most so close to each other an arson fire could quickly spread from one house to the next.
“If one goes, another one goes,” Liagkos said.
City officials said some of Thursday’s fires may have been caused by downed power lines due to high winds. Seven of the fires were deemed suspicious, officials said. There were fires in three occupied houses, two deemed suspicious; six fires in vacant structures, four of which were considered suspicious; one suspicious garage fire; and seven outdoor or trash fires, none suspicious.
More than 4,000 volunteers have registered to patrol the streets this year, up about 500 from last year, city officials said.
“The large number of active patrollers has helped to further reduce so far the number of fires the city experiences during the three-day Angels’ Night period,” a city news release said.