- Detroit Fire Incidents Facebook
- Detroit firefighters posted a photo of themselves posing in front of a burning home on New Year’s Eve to the Detroit Fire Incidents Facebook page, according to CNN affiliate WXYZ. The photo was later deleted.
- Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said he was investigating what happened.
- The owner of the home, Deonte Higginbotham, 21, told the New York Post that he was “furious” over the photo.
- “They just let it burn to the ground … Eighteen men and none of them did anything,” he said. “All of them need to be fired.”
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Detroit firefighters sparked controversy and an investigation after taking a picture in front of a burning home on New Year’s Eve to celebrate a colleague’s retirement.
The photo was initially posted on the Detroit Fire Incidents Facebook page on New Year’s Eve, showing 18 firefighters smiling in front of a home engulfed in flames in Detroit’s Delray neighborhood. It was captioned, “Crews take a moment to get a selfie on New Years!” according to CNN affiliate WXYZ. The photo was later deleted.
Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell told The New York Post that a firefighter at the center of the photo was retiring. He said the firefighters were trying to “keep the fire from spreading,” but because it was a vacant building with an intense fire, they weren’t going inside. He said upon reflection, the photo was “probably not very professional.”
Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones announced he would be investigating what happened.
“There are a lot of ways to celebrate a retirement. Taking a photo in front of a building fire is not one of them. We will investigate this matter and follow the facts where they lead us. If this photo is verified, discipline will be in order,” he told WXYZ.
Kodak moment leads to controversy! A Detroit fire crew is now in hot water after taking this photo for a fireman’s retirement. The vacant home eventually burned to the ground. I’ll have reaction from people nearby in about 30 mins on @Local4News pic.twitter.com/C2ObyVy6s4
— VICTOR WILLIAMS (@NewsWithVictor) January 1, 2020
Detroit Fire confirmed to WXYZ that the home was vacant at the time the photo was taken, and so was the home next to it.
Photos of the home after the blaze show almost nothing left of the structure.
The owner of the house told The New York Post he’s “furious” over the photo.
Deonte Higginbotham, 21, said the home has been in his family for 50 years, and he was in the midst of renovating it at the time of the fire.
“They just let it burn to the ground… Eighteen men and none of them did anything,” he said. “All of them need to be fired.”
Higginbotham grew up in the home, and up until the just before the fire, he lived there with his 70-year-old grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s. He said the only reason they weren’t home was because they were staying with family during the renovations.
“She doesn’t know about the fire,” he told The Post. “I don’t even want to tell her.”
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