Charges possible after fires at former state psychiatric hospital site in Northville Township

Criminal charges could be on the way for several people arrested after fires at the site of the former state psychiatric hospital site in Northville Township.

The fires were discovered Wednesday after black smoke was seen at Legacy Park on Seven Mile Road. Investigators later discovered that buildings on the site were fully engulfed in flames.

When police arrived they encountered five people who appeared to be trying to flee the scene. Officers conducted a preliminary investigation and took all five to the Northville Township Police Department.

The former state psychiatric hospital in Northville Township was torn down in 2018.

Northville detectives questioned the people and determined the fires were intentionally set, according to a Saturday press release from the Northville Township Department of Public Safety. The information on the case has been sent to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for review and pending charges, the release said.

Northville psychiatric hospital, which closed in 2003, has become a favorite destination for urban explorers, and others who have trespassed on to the property especially at Halloween time.

Last year October, Northville Township trustees announced that the property will be cleared and redeveloped as an "active recreation site." The township trustees approved a $12 million bond sale to fund the work.

The bond funding will pay for the removal or relocation of the remaining 11 buildings on the 332-acre site, now called Legacy Park. 

Demolition began in 2012, and the main building on site, the psychiatric hospital, was demolished in 2018.

James David Dickson contributed.