Wind-Whipped Fires Engulf Detroit Neighborhoods

PHOTO High winds are fueling fires burning at dozens of homes in multiple neighborhoods throughout the city of Detroit.
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A rash of fires were blazing this evening in four separate Detroit neighborhoods, destroying at least 20 homes, according to witnesses and local reports.

The Detroit Fire Department's resources were stretched thin, and water pressure in hydrants at several of the fires was low or nonexistent, hampering efforts to get control the fires.

At the same time, strong winds gusting from 25 to 45 miles per hour fed the flames and spread the fires quickly from house to house and street to street.

ABC News Detroit affiliate WXYZ-TV reported that at least 20 homes, many of them unoccupied, already had been destroyed.

Detroit Fire Department spokeswoman Katrina Butler told ABC Radio that authorities don't believe the fires were deliberately set. Instead, she said, they believe the fires started because of dry conditions, and the high winds have quickly spread them.

It's really because of the winds that are 40 to 45 miles per hour just creating this increase in fires for us," Butler said.

"We're hoping that the wind conditions will calm down, because what's going on, the winds are blowing all the hot embers around," she said.

In one neighborhood, a resident said that her parents saw a small fire starting in a vacant home near where they live and called 911.

"When they were waiting on the fire truck, it spreaded from the garage to the vacant house next door and by the wind blowing so much it caught on my mother and father's garage across the street," Stacy Parks said. "It just spreaded."

Ben Hardaway, who owns a business near one of the areas that was engulfed in flames this evening, said the fire leapt from house to house.

"The fire started, looked like a garage about the second or third house off the corner," he said. "It spread quickly because of the wind, the wind whipping it going toward the east and it went from one, two, three, four houses, jumped across the street. There are seven houses on fire on the end of the block on the other end."

Detroit resident Cecil Newlin said when his daughter called about a fire she saw, the operator told her that firefighters were already tied up battling other blazes.

"Just absolutely not enough units," he said. "The response my daughter got was that there was too many other fires and they would be here as soon as they could."

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

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