Eighteen Detroit firefighters are in hot water with their commissioner and the owner of a now-destroyed home after they appeared to pose for a photo outside the burning house on New Year’s Eve in Michigan.
The image was posted on Facebook late Tuesday on the Detroit Fire Incidents page, The Associated Press reports.
“Crews take a moment to get a selfie on New Years!” the caption read.
Firefighters were taking a moment to celebrate a retirement, according to Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell. He said the photo was taken outside a vacant house that was too dangerous to enter on Tuesday evening.
“It was despicable,” Fornell said.
The owners of the home said they were livid to see the firefighters using it for a photo op, the New York Post reports.
“Everybody is furious,” Deonte Higginbotham, 21, told the Post. He said the home has been in his family for five decades. He had been living there with his 70-year-old mother, who has Alzheimer’s, but they’d temporarily moved out during a remodelling effort.
“They just let it burn to the ground,” Higginbotham said. “Eighteen men and none of them did anything.”
Property records show the home belongs to a Dorothy Higginbotham.
The firefighters’ photo sparked several angry comments on Facebook, which prompted the page managers to remove it.
“I hope that was a staged fire,” one person wrote. “I’d hate to think my firemen posing for pictures while a real house was burning.”
Fire Commissioner Eric Jones announced he was looking into the photo in response to the outcry.
“There are a lot of ways to celebrate a retirement,” Jones said in a statement. “Taking a photo in front of a building fire is not one of them.”
He also addressed concerns for the homeowner.
“Ninety-nine percent of the men and women who go to a scene like that know what to do,” Jones told The Detroit News. “Behind every fire is a devastated family or property owner.”
He added that “discipline will be in order” if the photo is verified.
The cause of the fire has not been released.Follow @JoshKElliott
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