Detroit — The Detroit Fire Department is investigating a blaze last week at the Motown Movement house as arson, it said.

The house, at 1995 Ford Street, was ablaze Thursday evening. No one was inside the house at the time of the fire, officials said. Deputy Fire Chief Dave Fornell confirmed Saturday it was arson. 

Jaap Verheijen of the Motown Movement planning team said he received a call Thursday from a teacher at the Benedict Glazer Elementary school next door about the incident. 

The main damage was in the basement. Air ducts were melted and fell, windows shattered, the wiring and plumbing in the basement and structural beams were charred. 

“We were still doing construction on the house and even after the fire, the house is still standing. The fire station is just around the corner so they got here fast and caught it in an early stage. Everything is repairable, but will take lots of funds,” Verheijen said. 

“We are calling it an arson fire and it is under investigation,” Fornell said.

The Motown Movement is a nonprofit created by three architecture students from the Netherlands to fight climate change. They plan to do so by rehabbing a blighted, vacant home in Detroit and making it a community house that runs on sustainable energy. 

They bought a duplex, recently swept and free of asbestos, for $500 and through many partners, planned to make each floor a maker space or housing. 

From top to bottom, the brick house was fitted to be with energy-efficient features: solar panels, a green roof, windmill, insulation, double-pane windows and a gray-water system to flush the toilet with used water from the shower and rainwater collected on the roof.

Verheijen said the team plans to release an update Monday about the group’s  future plans. Despite the setback,  he said, the community has been willing to help and volunteers plan to come out every Saturday to help repair the damage. 

“People told us it could happen, like what happened to the Heidelberg and Katoi, but we never thought there was a threat,” he said. “Right after the fire was put out, there were volunteers that helped me board up the broken windows and doors and so many people who want to help.”

Twitter: @SarahRahal_



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