DETROIT — Detroit residents and city workers went on patrol Tuesday evening as part of an annual anti-arson campaign for the pre-Halloween period that once saw an upsurge of fires.
A curfew took effect at 6 p.m. for those 17 and under. The Angels’ Night observance runs Tuesday through Thursday.
Police and fire officials said they would not release any figures on fire reports until after the three-day effort ends.
The patrols were focused particularly on protecting vacant structures from arsonists.
The annual Angels’ Night volunteer effort is credited with radically reducing the number of intentionally set fires at the end of each October. Teams of residents, block clubs, community groups and churches are to conduct street patrols.
“We are asking residents and our friends from metro Detroit to join us again this year in our efforts to protect our city during this period,” Bing said in a statement earlier this month about the effort. Police said Bing was on the streets Tuesday evening with police, firefighters and volunteers.
The program is a long-running response to what used to be known as Devil’s Night, the day before Halloween. In 1984, the city had more than 800 fires during the period. Last year, 93 fires were reported.
Flint has a similar program. Ahead of this week’s efforts, Flint fire Chief David Cox Jr. and his firefighters walked the city streets telling residents about how they can report suspected arson. Cox said Flint plans increased police and fire patrols, and will seek help from other area departments if needed.
At its 1994 peak, there were 200-plus Devil’s Night fires there. According to The Flint Journal, the city had six fires last year.
“That night has always been a thorn in this department’s side,” Cox said.
In Detroit, officials were enforcing two emergency ordinances this week in the effort to prevent fires. One is an emergency curfew for minors, which requires anyone who is 17 years or under to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. for two nights starting Tuesday.
“During the emergency curfew hours, minors will be allowed to travel to and from work or educational or training programs, but they must carry proof of employment or attendance,” the city said in a statement. Parents may be ticketed if a child violates the curfew.
Also in Detroit, fuel may not be dispensed into portable containers until the end of the day Thursday except in certain emergency situations.
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