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[Update Feb 7th. Check the base of this section for feedback from one of the officers at the scene]

Headed downtown about 10am to see how the Winter Blast (snow machines, snow rides, ice skating) organizers were coping with the 11C+ (50F+) heat. The press is already beginning to arrive and Campus Martius was looking very sweet, if not exactly wintery.

Over the thinning skyline was a line of smoke from the near-west side. Smoke in Detroit, now that's not exactly unfmailiar. Anyway, I headed up a few blocks to take a look. At the corner of Cass and Temple were about half of the downtown fire department and the DPD had Cass blocked off both Downtown and Midtown. The building on the corner of Cass Park that lost its cobuild to a fire and then decay last year was pumping black smoke.

The blaze appeared to be contained to the roof area, but with two seperate outbreaks, one on the Cass side opposite Masonic Temple and the other on the opposite corner. The DFD had ladders in place on both [note both] sides of the building.

At this point I was joined by a guy who described himself as a roofer. "That yellow smoke' he said "that's from a tar roof, and it's nasty stuff. It's toxic as hell and your face will burn red if you stay in it". And man did that smoke start to pour out - dense yellow shit.

About this time the DFD managed to get a few guys up the fire escape and onto the roof that was really starting to torch.

This guy took the lead - no hesitation, straight up and onto the burning roof, tugging up a water line behind him.

Even as he pulled the line up and pointed it into the flames they were starting to get a real control of the roof.

This is where things got a bit ... umm .. complicated. The DFD were shooting high powered water from the other side of the building at the same time. Initially both sides were hitting parts of the building hidden in the smoke and shooting into the air. But do the math here. This guy is standing on a roof with high power water being directed from the opposite direction. Trouble...

Down on the ground one of the chiefs (I guess) was shouting up for the lead fireman to get off the roof. I guess the radio wasn't making it. Whatever. We could see from the corner of Cass & Sibley that this guy was in serious danger of taking a hose full in the chest and flipping back over the roof.

As it was he nearly did. The hose seemed to go just past him ... but only just. Jeez.

After which he took the message and headed rapidly back off the roof. With multiple HP hoses the fire lasted no more than half an hour longer. But well before it was out the DFD were on the roof picking out and killing the hotspots. I went back about an hour later and everyone was leaving.

                Great job guys.


DFD Respect

Craig D
I am a lieutenant of Engine 17 and we sent on 2nd alarm to that fire. Before you arrived the entire front of the building on the top floor had fire coming out from all the windows. Initially Engine 5 (1st engine on the scene) had stretched hand lines up to the fire floor. It was deemed to dangerous and the aerial platforms were put into action for the knockdown. Your pics seem to pick up after that. I was on the west side of the bldg farthest from you. At one point we had probably 20 people up there with 4 hand lines. Where you see all the red is where the roof collapsed narrowly missing a half dozen guys. Some nice pictures interesting to see from the outside. We have been going to that building for quite a while homeless men live there and start warming fires in garbage cans and the like. Hopefully the powers that be will tear the building down. Extremely unsafe now.

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Thanks for the feedback Craig - well worth hearing the real story that was largely hidden from us watching down below.


The wrecking ball arrivesAnd the building is soon gone