Yet Another Suspicious Fire Ravages The Heidelberg Project

December 09, 2013, 7:33 AM

Fire crews raced to the internationally known Heidelberg Project late Sunday night to battle another suspicious blaze, the eighth since May, a starling string of arson even for flame-scarred Detroit.

The target this time was the so-called Clock House, on Elba and Ellery streets, near the installation's main area along Heidelberg Street.

Investigators have determined that the previous seven fires were arsons. Last week, following the seventh  blaze, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced it is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for setting the fires

The earlier fires have destroyed four houses that were part of the Heidelberg Project, which artist Tyree Guyton began in the mid-1980s as a folk-art commentary on issues surrounding the neighborhood's blight.

As fast as fire consumes his work, Guyton has been rebuilding: He has already begun to install the whimsical found objects for which he is famous on the ruins of the OJ House, left, which burned to the ground Oct. 5.

There is the beginning of objects on the House of Soul, the old home covered with vinyl records that a fire destroyed Nov. 12.

Guyton,  was on the scene Sunday, has remained upbeat during the arson spree, at least publicly. 

According to Tony Briscoe of the Detroit News, Guyton was in tears Sunday.

“In the words of Plato, I have to be quiet and still. I have to think ...,” Guyton said, according to Briscoe.

“I will say this, (the house) will be a part of my protest,” he said, referring to leaving the remnants of the fire as part of his artwork.

On Nov. 21, after flames destroyed the Penny House, Guyton told Mike Campbell of WWJ-AM, "Gonna be a beautiful day."

After the OJ House was destroyed Oct. 5, Guyton posted a statement on the Heidelberg's website that expressed sympathy for the arsonist, whom Guyton appeared to know.

“We want you to know that we understand your pain,” the artist wrote. 

Sunday's fire was declared under control at 11: 25 p.m.

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