Most of us know that Detroit has no shortage of abandoned buildings. They seem to be everywhere I’ve been riding lately; from the heaviest populated neighborhoods to some of the most abandoned and deserted areas of the city. With so many derelict buildings lining both the commercial roads and neighborhood streets in Detroit, it isn’t unusual for me to occasionally come across a burning building. That was the case while riding up Jefferson Avenue from Belle Isle a few days ago.
On that particular day, I spotted heavy smoke filling the sky just north of Jefferson near Chalmers Street. So I headed over there to check it out. Halfway up the block I was on, I saw an abandoned three-story apartment building with smoke and flames coming out of the roof and windows near the back.
I was there well before the firefighters arrived and there were no others, except for a couple of people I passed near the end of the block, standing on their porch, looking at the burning building. There was something strange about being the only one nearby watching a three-story structure burning out of control.
While watching the smoke and flames coming out of the building, I could hear the crackling sound of burning wood, and a couple of explosions from deep inside. I could also hear sirens from fire trucks in the distance, growing louder as they neared the flaming building. They seemed to arrive at the apartment building in waves.
Once there, a couple of the firefighters rolled out hoses from the truck and attached them to a nearby hydrant, while others slipped on their firefighting equipment and prepared to enter the building. One of the trucks on the scene was a ladder truck. After it was positioned close to the building, the huge ladder swung into place and the firefighters extended it above the burning structure.
A team of firefighters entered through an open door on the main level to fight the fire from below. Others made their way up the smoke-encased ladder to the roof of the building with tools in hand. From the top of the ladder they carefully stepped onto the roof, slowly edged their way to the back of the place, and began chopping holes in the roof. Through the holes, they poured water on the flames below. It didn’t take long for the firefighters to get the fire under control.