String of fires under investigation after funeral home was firebombed on Detroit’s east side

At least three fires have been reported along Chalmers Street near east Outer Drive

There have been multiple businesses victims of firebombing, and now a Detroit church.

DETROIT – A Detroit man working on renovating a funeral home on the city’s east side fell victim to a suspicious firebombing.

That’s not the only suspicious fire in the neighborhood in the past few weeks, as at least three fires have been reported along Chalmers Street near east Outer Drive, and people living there fear a firebug may be on the loose.

“I was asleep, and the next thing I know, I hear a loud bang and then boom,” said Lawrence Pillow

Pillow came within a minute or two of being overcome by toxic smoke last Friday (Jan. 20) morning after something came crashing through the window of the apartment he kept on the top floor of the building.

It was engulfed in fire, and he was trapped.

“I went back to the bedroom and knocked the windows out and stuck my head out of the windows because the flames was coming towards me,” Pillow said.

A Detroit man working on renovating a funeral home on the city’s east side fell victim to a suspicious firebombing. (WDIV)

Pillow said Detroit fire got there in time, put a ladder up, and got him out.

Pillow has been renovating the funeral home on Chalmers Street in hopes of opening it back up. But he is just the latest victim along the stretch of Chalmers Street to fall victim to fire.

Two weeks ago, a market and a liquor store burned on the same day.

Witnesses told Local 4 they watched a car pull up and someone get out and firebomb the market.

Pillow’s building is the fourth to burn.

Detroit fire is investigating, but this is the first time someone has been inside when a fire struck.

Pillow could have been killed.

He’s worried if this keeps up, someone will lose their life, as he almost lost his.

“I guess, evidently, they are just burning up all of the buildings over here on Chalmers,” Pillow said. “Two minutes later, I would have been dead.”

The family of Pillow has set up a GoFundMe as he has lost everything.


About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.