Homeless woman tries to keep warm, causes house fire

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — A homeless woman who used gasoline to heat a fireplace in an abandoned house caused a blaze Friday afternoon on the city’s west side, fire officials said.

No injuries have been reported.

Firefighters were called to the fire at a two-story brick house near West Grand Boulevard and Grand River around 1:32 pm Friday. The house sits between Enon Missionary Baptist Church and an apartment building.

“The flames were licking the building,” said Battalion Chief Derrick Williams of the Detroit Fire Department, about the church next door. “The crews did a fine job keeping it away from the structure.”

The two-alarm fire, which was mostly out shortly before 3 pm, left the building smoldering.

The fire is not an arson, Detroit Arson Chief Charles Simms said. A homeless woman who frequents the abandoned house tried to start a fire in the fireplace, he said.

“She used gasoline to start a fire to keep warm,” Simms said. “She was able to get out safe.”

When the fire got out of control, the woman alerted others to call the fire department.

By 3:30 p.m. Friday southwestbound West Grand Boulevard was reopened to vehicle traffic as firefighters remained on the scene on the northeastbound side.


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