By Mike Campbell

DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit officials Tuesday kicked-off the annual Angels’ Night effort, to thwart would-be arsonists during a three-day period October 29 – October 31.

Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin noted a 55% drop in arson fires in 2011 versus the same three-day period a year earlier, in 2010.

“When you take out the 11 fires that occurred in occupied dwellings, which were truly accidental or misuse of a heat source, we wound up with 83 fires, that was down from over 169 fires the year before,” said Austin.

“Individuals can join us for Angels’ Night efforts by watching a block, patrolling their neighborhood, watching abandoned structures, and turning on their porch lights on,” he said.

“When I was a kid, Angel’s Night was then called Devil’s Night because we were being a little devilish – like toilet papering trees, tipping trash cans over, and soaping car windows. Now of course, none of that I’ve done,” said Austin with a laugh.

On a serious note police and fire officials said they can’t do it without volunteers, like Erminia Ramirez:

“I live in southwest Detroit, I’m a lifelong resident and I believe we need to be part of the process, work with the police department, the fire department, because the city can’t do it all on their own. We are homeowners, renters some of us, we need to take care of our own,” she said.

“I’m the one who brings in the food, so I’m going to be paying for some of that food that our volunteers are going to be eating this year,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez says it’s up to everybody to help fight the arsonists; the city’s police and fire departments can’t do it on their own. Since she’s got the food handled (just kidding!) others are being encouraged to light their porches, adopt/babysit a vacant house, and perhaps most importantly report any suspicious activity.

Find more Angels’ Night registration information, here.


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