Disgruntled Detroit homeowner sues firefighters for taking viral photo in front of his burning home

Local 4 Defenders speak with homeowner suing Detroit Fire Department

DETROIT – Local 4 spoke exclusively to a Detroit homeowner who is suing firefighters for taking a viral photo in front of his burning home on New Year’s Eve.

When Detroit firefighters took a photo in front of Deonte Higginbotham’s burning house, it went viral. It’s still being seen around the world.

The photo showed firefighters posing in front of the home.

Higginbotham, who was rehabbing the house, told the Local 4 Defenders that it still takes his breath away when he sees the picture.

Six months after the incident, Higginbotham said he’s still “in shock” when he sees the photo, which shows his family’s home that he was rehabbing for his grandmother.

“Did they apologize?” Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley asked.

“No, sir,” Higginbotham said.

“Did they say anything to you?” Shawn asked.

“No, sir,” Higginbotham said. “Nothing.”

The home is on South Green Street. At the time, officials from the Detroit Fire Department said they were investigating, but the fire was too dangerous to send crews in.

Crews knew the house was not vacant, officials said.

Higginbotham’s attorney, Steve Haney, told Local 4 that talks with the department and city officials have gone nowhere.

“There is no common law duty for firefighters to fight fires,” Haney said.

On Tuesday, Higginbotham and Haney filed a negligence lawsuit against the city, the Detroit Fire Department and all the firefighters in the photo.

“It’s a really horrible look for the city of Detroit,” Haney said.

“I thought they would reach out,” Higginbotham said. “They didn’t. No one.”

Now that the suit has been filed, officials with the Detroit Fire Department won’t comment on the case due to pending litigation.

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