Burned Out Residents Sound Off At Hearing

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detroit fires 090810 0044 Burned Out Residents Sound Off At HearingAngry residents told the Public Service Commission that DTE Energy didn’t do enough to prevent the firestorm that devastated Detroit on September 7th.

A  hearing was held in Detroit Wednesday surrounding the series of fast-moving fires that swept through an eastside neighborhood earlier this month.

It was DTE Energy officials’ turn on the hot seat in front of the Detroit City Council and the Michigan PSC on the cause of fires that destroyed dozens of homes. Hundreds of power lines were downed by winds of nearly 50 miles an hour, knocking out power to 50,000 customers and seen as one of the factors in those blazes that swept through several neighborhoods in the Seven Mile/Van Dyke area.

There are plenty of questions over the maintenance of those lines and how the utility responded to problems surrounding them. City Councilman Ken Cockrel, Jr. calls it a miniature, local equivalent to the BP oil spill.

Less than 100 people testified at the hearing, and nearly everyone complained that the time and location of the meeting made it very difficult to get there.

“You held this meeting when it is the Fourth Wednesday Count [student count day in Detoit schools], and you want affected families to be here from one til three when they need to have their children in school,” said one resident. “You should know how many children lost their homes and couldn’t go to school today,” she said.

Many who took the podium said that DTE did not respond to calls of downed wires before the fires broke out. And, even after when the homes went up in flames, they said DTE was nowhere to be found.

“I see the firemans trying to put the fire out. I see the citizens trying to put the fire out, but I don’t see DTE out there and heard that they were trying to proctect the equipment,” a resident said.

Several residents demanded that the PSC hold more hearings on the fires.

State regulators may propose remedial actions.

Copyright, 2010. WWJ Newsradio 950, All Rights Reserved.

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