Suspicious fire destroys another Heidelberg Project property in Detroit
ATF and Detroit fire officials investigate suspected arson in string of fires
Project security saw a man in dark clothing fleeing "The War Room" installation
A suspicious fire early Thanksgiving morning destroyed another home in Detroit’s popular Heidelberg Project, an internationally known art installation plagued by six suspected acts of arson in recent months.
The latest blaze, at about 6 a.m. Thursday, engulfed “The War Room,” a vacant home decorated with colorful paintings, a Detroit fire official told CNN. The project transforms rundown houses into works of art.
Project officials said the fire occurred dangerously close to the homes of local residents.
“Our only concern at this point is the safety of residents,” Jenenne Whitfield, the project’s executive director, said in a statement. “We are working in full cooperation to do everything we can to put an end to this madness.”
In the last two months, Heidelberg properties were hit with six suspicious fires that destroyed four vacant buildings – “Obstruction of Justice,” “House of Soul,” “The Penny House” and “The War Room,” according to the project. Only three properties remain in the installation, which reportedly draws about 300,000 visitors from around the world each year.
Investigators with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working with Detroit fire officials in the probe.
“We see the fires as highly suspicious,” ATF Special Agent Donald Dawkins told CNN. “We are trying to get to the bottom of this.”
The project last week started a campaign aimed at raising $50,000 in a month to install a security system at its properties. It has raised half the amount.
In a statement Thursday, the Heidelberg Project said a man in dark clothing was seen fleeing the property by security guards in the area.
State and federal officials said they have no suspects.
The Heidelberg Project was created by artist Tyree Guyton in 1986 in an attempt to bring decaying homes back to life with decorations and transform the dilapidated properties into art installations. One of Detroit’s top tourist attractions, the project was recently featured by CNN’s Anthony Bourdain on “Parts Unknown: Detroit.”