Friday, January 3, 2020

Burning home used as backdrop for Detroit firefighters' photo was not abandoned

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2020 at 10:56 AM

click to enlarge FACEBOOK
  • Facebook

Grinning Detroit firefighters who posed in front of a burning house for a group photo on New Year’s Eve have responded to criticism by claiming the home was abandoned.

It wasn’t.

The home is owned by 70-year-old Dorothy Higgenbotham, who raised her family in the house.

“They just let it burn to the ground … Eighteen men and none of them did anything,” son Deonte Higginbotham, 21, told the New York Post. “All of them need to be fired.”

The photo was posted on at least two Facebook pages, including one operated by three Detroit firefighters. According to the firefighters’ page, Times Up Outdoors, the photo was taken to celebrate a fire chief’s retirement.

“Wishing chief Gary Fisher a happy retirement. We are happy for ya, but sad to see ya go sir! Looks like Detroit sent you out with a busy night!” the post read.

The post added, “Calm down about the photo, the dwelling was empty and conditions would not allow an interior attack.”

A GoogleMaps image from May 2019 shows the house was well-maintained.

click to enlarge GOOGLEMAPS
  • GoogleMaps

Dorothy Higginbotham  who suffers from Alzheimer’s, was not home at the time because the house was being renovated, her son said.

“She’s really sick right now,” he said of his mother. “We were trying to get the house remodeled” because of her illness, he said.

The fire was deemed suspicious and is under investigation. Curiously, the home is in a largely vacant area of southwest Detroit that is expected to be wiped out for the new Gordie Howe Bridge.

Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said firefighters will be disciplined if authorities authenticate the photo.

"There are a lot of ways to celebrate a retirement. Taking a photo in front of a building fire is not one of them," Smith said in a statement. "We will investigate this matter and follow the facts where they lead us. If this photo is verified, discipline will be in order."

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation