Residents on Detroit's west side worried after third house fire in last week

House destroyed, two others damaged on Spokane Avenue

DETROIT – Neighbors on Detroit's west side are worried about their homes after flames destroyed a house and caused major damage to two others.

Multiple firefighters were injured early Wednesday morning while battling the blaze on Spokane Avenue near I-96 and Tireman Avenue, officials said.

A man watched as his property was destroyed by fire and the two next door also caught fire. Residents on Spokane Avenue said this is happening too often.

"This is my property," homeowner Bernard Elam said. "I grew up in this home, and right now, it's totally lost."

Elam said his family moved to the house in 1953. He has been renting it since they moved out.

His alarm company notified him of the fire Wednesday morning.

"I finished getting ready to come over to investigate and I turned the corner -- this is what we have," Elam said.

The home had been vacant since January when Elam's last tenants moved out. He said he had been in the process of preparing it for a new tenant before the fire.

"I try to take care of it because we grew up in the house," Elam said. "We want to take care of it."

"We heard some shouting," neighbor Joseph Motyka said. "We heard some yelling. My wife said she heard something. I come out of my front balcony porch and there's flames 15 to 20 feet in the air, smoke, smoke everywhere, and it's 6:40 a.m."

Motyka said this is the third house fire in the area in the past week.

"It makes me scared," Motyka said. "I just moved over here and within a short amount of time, seeing that many fires within a week -- not a month, a week -- is scary."

Nobody was working inside the home at the time of the fire, officials said. It's unclear if anyone was inside the other two houses.

Elam has homeowner's insurance but he said he doesn't know what he plans to do next.

The Detroit Fire Department is investigating the cause of the fire.

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