Now the latest from WXYZ (TV 7 in Detroit).
Detroit's Fire Commissioner told Action News fires were burning at 80 locations between 4:00pm and 8:00pm Tuesday. No word on how many homes and buildings were destroyed. Many of the destroyed homes were abandoned.More to come. Detroit Mayor David Bing is holding a press conference about the blazes as I type.
Wednesday morning police told Action News they released a person of interest in connection with the fires. They say it appears the blazes across the city were not deliberately set. Still, several investigations remain ongoing.
Some of the worst damage is on the city's east side. At least 20 homes burned in the area of Robinwood and Van Dyke. The fire spread across the city block to Robinwood Street. Firefighters say it’s possible the blazes in this neighborhood were ignited by a faulty transformer spraying sparks. Those sparks were carried by strong winds and started fires at a number of other houses.
Folks on the block say they alerted DTE to the problem last week and nothing was done. Action News contacted DTE and they tell us they are investigating those claims.
Meanwhile, on Moenart Street and Luce Avenue near Mound and McNichols 7 homes caught fire.
An abandoned commercial building also burned near Chene and Hendrie on the city's east side.
On Detroit's west side four homes burned on Stoepel near Livernois and Margareta Avenue.
The Fire Commissioner told Action News during the height of the fires 236 firefighters were working. One firefighter was injured during the afternoon.
Strong winds are to blame for fueling many of the fires. The winds may also have prompted the flames. The Detroit Fire Department took calls on 140 wires down across the city from 8:00am to 5:00pm Tuesday.
DTE says 26,000 customers are without power in Wayne County.
Personal note: I'd heard about these fires on the radio on the way home, but had no idea of the size of the blaze until I watched this clip. Also, I'm OK, but one of my students lost power and had to go home early tonight.
I was surprised. These winds aren't any worse than the average Santa Ana back in southern California. Those don't knock out power back in L.A. Of course, they do spread brushfires, but not urban house fires. I guess Detroit isn't used to winds like this when there is no thunderstorm or blizzard.