The 2010 Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire

Video: Friend of Detroit fire victim denounces utility shutoffs

14 May 2010

Eric speaks to the WSWS about the circumstances of the deadly house fire which took the life of his friend.

DTE profits soar in first quarter

By Andrea Peters, 29 April 2010

On Tuesday, energy giant DTE announced a 29 percent increase in first quarter profits compared to last year. Meanwhile, thousands of Detroit area residents are in danger of losing utility service for non-payment.

Detroit mayor appoints DTE executive to top post

By Andrea Peters, 27 April 2010

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing continues to add former DTE Energy executives to his staff, announcing on Friday the appointment of Robert Buckler as the city’s chief operating officer.

DTE Energy launches PR campaign to deflect anger over utility shutoffs

By Lawrence Porter, 23 April 2010

In response to the growing popular anger over utility shutoffs and a series of utility-related house fires in Detroit, DTE Energy is stepping up its public relations campaign to portray itself as a caring company willing to do everything to help its low-income customers.

Video: Mother of young children killed in Detroit house fire speaks

21 April 2010

Sylvia Young speaks to the report-back meeting of the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue fire on April 13, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The fire occurred on March 2, just hours after her gas and electricity were cut off by local utility monopoly, DTE Energy.

Referee throws out case against Sylvia Young

Detroit mother lost three children in house fire

By Jerry White, 17 April 2010

A referee at the Third Circuit Court in Detroit on Friday threw out the case against Sylvia Young, the 31-year-old mother who lost three small children in a house fire on March 2. Keywords (at least 5 words or phrases, separated by commas): Sylvia Young, DTE, Detroit, fires, energy, “illegal hookups,” Citizen’s Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire

Detroit meeting indicts DTE in fatal house fires

Committee formed to broaden struggle against shutoffs

By Tom Eley, 15 April 2010

At the report-back meeting of the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire, Detroit residents voted unanimously in favor of the committee’s findings, and established a committee to advance the struggle against utility shutoffs.  

Dexter Avenue inquiry announces findings

By Tom Eley, 14 April 2010

At a well-attended meeting on April 13 in Detroit, the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire released its findings and recommendations. 


Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue fire: Utility Shutoffs and the social crisis in Detroit

Findings of the Commission

13 April 2010

The Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire publishes its findings and recommendations.

DTE profits soar in first quarter

By Andrea Peters, 10 April 2010

On Tuesday, energy giant DTE announced a 29 percent increase in first quarter profits compared to last year. Meanwhile, thousands of Detroit area residents are in danger of losing utility service for non-payment.

Thousands in Detroit face utility shut-offs with end of “winter protection plan”

By Lawrence Porter, 10 April 2010

As of April 1, more than 60,000 households in the metro-Detroit area who were under a “winter protection” utility shut-off plan sponsored by regional energy giants DTE and Consumers Energy now face large accumulated bills and the danger of being shut off.

New study demands sweeping cuts, privatization for Detroit

By Tom Eley, 9 April 2010

A corporate-controlled group, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, is demanding cuts and the privatization of services in Detroit, to be imposed through bankruptcy if necessary.

Video: Head of legal services nonprofit speaks before Dexter Avenue Inquiry

5 April 2010

Marilyn Mullane, Executive Director of Michigan Legal Services, spoke about the lack of help available for Detroit families who fall behind on their utility bills. Her testimony was part of the Dexter Avenue Fire inquiry, which brought together workers, investigators, and experts in an investigation into the causes of two deadly house fires in Detroit.

Public Meeting

Findings of the Citizens Inquiry into Dexter Avenue Fire

3 April 2010

The Citizens Inquiry will hold a report-back meeting in Detroit to release the findings from its public hearing, held on March 20.

Detroit firefighter speaks before Dexter Avenue Inquiry

3 April 2010

Marice Funchess, a Detroit Firefighter, testified before the Dexter Avenue Inquiry on March 20 in Detroit. Funchess spoke about the hardships imposed by budget cuts and utility shutdowns on firefighters, but said his coworkers remain committed to their duty even under the most difficult circumstances.

Report to the Dexter Inquiry

The impact of poverty on utility shutoffs

By Debra Watson, 31 March 2010

The following report on poverty and welfare in Michigan was submitted to the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire, which held a hearing on March 20.

Health and health care services in the poorest US city

By E. Galen, 30 March 2010

Detroit is the poorest major city in the US, and this has direct consequences for the health of the population. Children are particularly affected by environment-caused conditions like lead poisoning and asthma.

Obama cuts to home energy assistance to have devastating consequences

By Hiram Lee, 27 March 2010

The Obama administration’s 35 percent cut to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program will have deadly consequences for those in danger of utility shutoffs.

Vendetta continues against mother who lost three in Detroit fire

Sylvia Young and family members speak out against utility shutoffs

By Jerry White, 26 March 2010

The legal witch hunt against the young mother who lost three of her children in a March 2 house fire in Detroit—just hours after DTE Energy cut off heat and electrical service to her home—is continuing.

Hearing of the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire

25 March 2010

The Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire: Utility Shutoffs and the Social Crisis in Detroit held a hearing at Wayne State University on March 20.

In state of city address

Bing demands smaller, more exploited Detroit

By Tom Eley, 25 March 2010

In his annual state of the city address, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing reiterated his demand for the shutdown of neighborhoods and appealed for private investment through cuts to city services and ramped up exploitation of workers.



March 20 hearing of the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire

Deindustrialization, the UAW and the Decline of Detroit

By Jerry White, 25 March 2010

Utility shutoffs and the lack of the most basic necessities in Detroit are the consequences of a decades-long assault on the jobs and living standards of the working class.

March 20 hearing of the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire

Utility shutoffs: Who profits?

By Tom Eley, 24 March 2010

Report to the Citizens Inquiry on the policies DTE has used to generate profit in spite of the economic crisis, and who has benefited from these policies.

DTE Energy holds public relations event as utility shut-offs continue

By Tom Eley, 24 March 2010

Seeking to calm anger over utility shut-offs, DTE Energy joined state authorities at a Detroit media event on Tuesday designed to portray the energy giant as a caring corporation.

The significance of the Dexter Avenue Fire Inquiry

By Joe Kishore, 23 March 2010

The initial hearing of the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire in Detroit on Saturday was a significant event in the life of the working class.

Video: Director of Detroit free medical clinic denounces utility shutoffs

23 March 2010

Sister Mary Ellen Howard is the Executive Director of Detroit’s Cabrini Clinic, the oldest free medical facility in the US. She discusses the impact of utility shutoffs on patients at the clinic.

March 20 hearing of the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire

The role of the government in deadly US house fires

By Andrea Peters, 23 March 2010

Report submitted to the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire about the role of the government in allowing utility shutoffs that lead to deadly house fires.

Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire holds first hearing

By a WSWS reporting team, 22 March 2010

At the initial public hearing of the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire, held Saturday at Wayne State University in Detroit, Inquiry commissioners heard testimony from residents, experts and researchers about utility shutoffs and house fires in Detroit, the practices and political influence of energy giant DTE, and the broader social crisis in the city.

Despite ruling by referee

Court appointed guardian pursues neglect charges against Sylvia Young

By Tom Eley, 20 March 2010

A court appointed guardian is pursuing charges of neglect in a new court only a day after a ruling by a court referee to dismiss a case against Sylvia Young, the Detroit mother who lost three young children in a March 2 house fire.

Mother who lost three children in Detroit fire speaks out

Legal witch hunt against Sylvia Young collapsing

By Jerry White, 19 March 2010

The effort by the state of Michigan to frame up Sylvia Young, the mother of three small children who perished in a Detroit house fire on March 2, is falling apart as the charges of neglect against the 30-year-old mother have been exposed as nothing but a concoction by the authorities.

United Community Housing Coalition director to testify at Detroit inquiry

Ted Phillips: “Thousands of people are living without lights, water or gas”

By Lawrence Porter, 19 March 2010

Ted Phillips, executive director of United Community Housing Coalition, is scheduled to testify this Saturday in Detroit at the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire.

DTE, Wall Street profit from utility shutoffs

By Tom Eley, 18 March 2010

In spite of Depression-like conditions in its market, southeast Michigan, DTE pulled in handsome profits in 2009.

Video: Dexter Avenue area residents express anger over utility shutoffs

By a reporting team, 18 March 2010

The World Socialist Web Site interviewed several residents of the Detroit neighborhood.

Detroit firefighters discuss impact of utility shut-offs and budget cuts

By Jerry White, 17 March 2010

At a dinner for Sylvia Young—who lost three children in a March 2 house fire hours after DTE cut power and gas to her Detroit home—firefighters spoke with the WSWS about the deadly consequences of utility shut-offs.

The deadly consequences of utility shutoffs

By Andrea Peters, 16 March 2010

There is a clear link between utility shutoffs and deadly house fires, driven by the fact that people resort to unsafe methods to stay warm and keep the lights on when without gas and electricity. The utility companies and the government are aware of this, but continue shutoffs.

Funeral held for Detroit children killed in Bangor Street fire

By Jerry White, 15 March 2010

Hundreds of people on Saturday attended a funeral in Detroit for three small children who were killed in a March 2 house fire, which occurred hours after DTE Energy cut off gas and electricity to the home.

The 1993 Mack Avenue fire inquiry

By Shannon Jones, 15 March 2010

In 1993 The Workers League, the forerunner of the Socialist Equality Party, intervened to defend a working class couple unjustly prosecuted for the deaths of their seven children in a tragic house fire in Detroit.

The Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire

By Tom Eley, 13 March 2010

The Socialist Equality Party has initiated the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire to expose the deadly threat posed by utility shutoffs and to build a movement to stop them.

Neighbor discusses Dexter Ave. fire, utility shutoffs

13 March 2010

Lawrence Porter talks with Christine Silvertooth, who resides in the neighborhood where the January 5 fatal fire occurred, about her utility bills and shutoffs.

“The deaths here at Dexter Avenue should never have happened”

Press conference held by Detroit Citizens Inquiry

By Tom Eley, 12 March 2010

In the wake of a rash of deadly house fires in Detroit, the Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire held a press conference on Thursday afternoon calling for public participation in a fact-finding hearing, which will be held March 20 at Wayne State University in Detroit. 


Citizens’ Inquiry chairman and family member speak at press conference

12 March 2010

Lawrence Porter, chairman of the Citizens' Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire, and Charlotte Nash, sister of two of the fire victims, spoke at the press conference on Thursday.

Dexter Avenue Fire Inquiry to hold press conference Thursday in Detroit

By Andrea Peters, 11 March 2010

The Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue Fire is holding a press conference on Thursday, as opposition to utility shutoffs and house fires grows throughout the Detroit-area.

Elderly woman dies in Detroit house fire

DTE cut gas, electricity in 2006

By a WSWS reporting team, 11 March 2010

An elderly woman died in a Detroit house fire on Tuesday evening. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the woman had lived without gas and electricity since 2006.

Dexter Avenue fire victim's son speaks to the WSWS

11 March 2010

Marvin Allen Jr., whose father was killed in the January 5 Detroit house fire, speaks with Lawrence Porter of the WSWS about the circumstances of the fatal fire. The shutoff and subsequent refusal of DTE Energy to restore power to the house was the major factor leading to the tragedy.

As death toll from fatal house fires increases

Mayor plans to relocate poor residents to “downsize” Detroit

By Jerry White, 9 March 2010

A series of fatal house fires have occurred in Detroit as the mayor of the city prepares to force residents out of poor neighborhoods and bulldoze their homes in order to eliminate public services to whole swaths of the city.

From the catalog of Mehring Books

The Truth Behind the Mack Avenue Fire

9 March 2010

In connection with the Citizens Inquiry sponsored by the Socialist Equality Party into the recent fire on Dexter Avenue in Detroit and the social conditions that gave rise to it, Mehring Books is recommending to readers The Truth Behind the Mack Avenue Fire.

Authorities, media launch witch-hunt against Sylvia Young

Who are the real criminals behind the Detroit house fires?

By Tom Eley, 8 March 2010

Detroit area media and city and state authorities have launched a witch-hunt against Sylvia Young, the mother of three young children who died in a March 2 house fire on Bangor Street in Detroit.

THAW, United Way: No help for utility shutoffs

By Nancy Hanover, 8 March 2010

In the aftermath of the deaths of 14 Detroiters as a result of utility shutoffs over the last two months, the media, the utility company and state and local officials have attempted to shift the blame onto the victims, claiming they failed to seek the help that is readily available.

State attempts to victimize mother of fire victims

Sylvia Young says she pled with Detroit utility to keep heat on

By Jerry White, 6 March 2010

Michigan state has filed a negligence case against Sylvia Young, the 30-year-old mother who lost three children in a Detroit house fire. Young told the World Socialist Web Site that she pled with an employee from DTE Energy not to shut off electricity and gas service hours before the fire.

The role of the government in Detroit’s deadly house fires

By Andrea Peters, 6 March 2010

The city of Detroit and the state of Michigan share responsibility for the house fire that took the lives of three children on Tuesday.

Woman severely injured in Detroit house fire

By Lawrence Porter, 6 March 2010

As anger over utility shutoffs in Detroit grows, yet another fire on Friday left one person severely injured. The house had been without utilities for years.

Video: Neighbors of Detroit fire victims oppose utility shutoffs

6 March 2010

WSWS reporters interviewed neighbors of the victims of the fire on March 2, two days after the tragedy.

Deadly house fires in Detroit: Who is responsible?

By Tom Eley, 5 March 2010

Fires in Detroit-area homes with suspended utilities have claimed the lives of a number of people in recent months. Fault does not rest with the victims.

Three children perish in Detroit house fire

By a WSWS reporting team, 4 March 2010

Three children died in a house fire on Detroit’s west side on Tuesday evening, in another blaze caused by the shutoff of utilities to the home.

Interviews with neighbors of fire victims

4 March 2010

On the evening of March 2, a fire raged through a West side Detroit home, killing three of the seven children living there. DTE had shut off the gas and electricity only hours earlier.

Video report

Dexter Avenue Fire Inquiry: Sister of victims speaks on utility shutoffs

2 March 2010

The Citizens Inquiry into the Dexter Avenue fire of January 5 has begun interviews with relatives, neighbors and Detroit residents. We begin with an interview with Charlotte Nash, the sister of two of the victims.

Attend the fact-finding inquiry

The Dexter Avenue fire: Utility shutoffs and the social crisis in Detroit

By Socialist Equality Party, 25 February 2010

The SEP is calling on workers, young people and all those concerned about the worsening social conditions in Detroit to participate in a fact-finding inquiry into the January 5 house fire on Dexter Ave. which killed three residents living without utilities.

Utility shutoffs responsible for another death in Detroit

By Lawrence Porter, 4 February 2010

A house fire after a utility shutoff claimed another victim, the latest in a series of tragic and entirely preventable deaths in the poorest large city in the US.

Hundreds attend funeral for victims of Detroit house fire

By Lawrence Porter, 14 January 2010

More than 300 people attended a funeral for Marvin and Tyrone Allen of Detroit, who died in a house fire after their utilities had been shut off.

Cut off from heat in freezing temperatures

Three die in Detroit house fire

By Lawrence Porter, 6 January 2010

Following a week of bitter cold weather, three people living in a home without gas or electrical service died in a tragic house fire in Detroit early Tuesday morning.