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Freaky fires

Wind-whipped fires add to Detroit's economic woes (Yahoo/AP, 8 September 2010)
Bing calls fires in Detroit 'natural disaster' (Detroit Free Press, 8 September 2010)
... It was warm and very windy, and the humidity was 24% which is pretty much unheard of here. Peak wind gusts at Detroit City Airport were reported to be 49 miles per hour in the wake of a cold front passage earlier in the day. The city of Detroit experienced about 85 house fires yesterday, a very large number — according to the Free Press, the average number of fires is 35. The fire department was swamped and in some cases it took 90 minutes for trucks to respond, because staff was already fighting other fires.

Arson is suspected in only two fires so far. It appears most of the fires came from some sort of issue with electricity wires, either downed by the winds or trees blown into them, or in one or more cases perhaps by the side effects of utility theft, which has been growing. Once fires got started, the winds blew sparks and embers to adjacent structures. In a way it was like a forest fire, how some of the fires spread. Firefighting efforts were surely hampered by budget cuts over the last few years, but firefighters worked diligently and some came in on a day off to work.

I'm fine. I haven't heard of any reports of unusual fires in any of the areas around the city of Detroit. The only effects of the wind I suffered were a lot of branches and sticks blown out of my tree onto the lawn. Driving home from work yesterday, I saw smoke from one of the largest fires which was about three miles south of my house. It's still a little breezier than usual tonight, but getting closer to normal.

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