City ‘dodged a bullet’

By Charles Sercombe

Tuesday’s wind-whipped firestorms in nearby neighborhoods in Detroit came close to Hamtramck, but not close enough to cause alarm.

“We dodged a bullet,” said Hamtramck Police Chief Steve Paruk about Tuesday’s rash of fires that broke out in Detroit in both the east and west sides.

In all, 85 separate fires were reported. Most of the fires were blamed on downed electrical lines.
Paruk said there was a small grass fire on Tuesday.

Curiously, while Detroit officials said the fires raged out of control partly because the fire department is understaffed and under-equipped, no call was made to Hamtramck for assistance. Hamtramck has a mutual aid agreement with Detroit.

One of the neighborhoods up in flames was off of Charles St., just a short distance outside Hamtramck. Paruk said it’s been years since Detroit called for help.

But Detroit did call on Warrant and Harper Woods and other suburban communities for assistance.

Paruk said there were only two downed wires on Tuesday. He said it’s possible that the reason more didn’t come down was because Hamtramck was basically rewired after the 1997 tornado blew into town and knocked down hundreds of lines and trees.

Detroit also had to contend with a number of fire hydrants not working. Hamtramck once had close to 100 out of 500 hydrants out of operation in the early 1990s. That problem had more to do with a labor issue in the city, which has since been taken care of. Paruk said he is not aware of any hydrants currently out of order.

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