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Detroit fire officials look into blaze at old training site

December 31, 2018
Trash, potentially including sensitive records from the Detroit Fire Department's now-defunct training center, can be seen strewn around the building on West Warren and Lawton in Detroit on Dec. 30, 2018. Authorities are investigating a suspicious fire that damaged the Detroit Fire Department's former training center and many documents. (Robin Buckson/Detroit News via AP)

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit fire officials are investigating a suspicious blaze that damaged the department’s former training center, which may have housed sensitive records.

It took firefighters about 10 minutes to control Thursday’s blaze at the Detroit Fire Department’s old training academy, The Detroit News reported .

The department last used the building in 2014. It was turned over to the Detroit Building Authority a year ago, according to Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell.

The fire has been deemed suspicious, but it’s unclear if it was caused by an arsonist, Fornell said.

Detroit Fire Fighters Union President Mike Nevin said he saw paperwork, including payroll information, documents with Social Security numbers and medical information of civilians and employees, at the site.

“They were letting the building fall into disrepair. It was open to trespass,” Nevin said. “There were sensitive documents filling the entire property site.”

Second Deputy Chief Charles Simms disputed the allegations that the area was left unsecure.

“The city secured the former academy building with padlocked fencing and boards when the Fire Department vacated it and has responded to all requests to have it re-secured since then,” he said.

The allegations of sensitive paperwork are being investigated, Simms said.

Staff members have been at the site multiple times this year to review records that were left behind, Simms said. They will continue to assess documents this week, removing those that could be valuable to department investigations and destroying the remaining documents, he said.

Fornell said other documents from a separate warehouse were moved to the city’s new fire academy within the past year and a half. He said those files, which include fire prevention and arson files, were digitized and secured.

“Legal files, inspections, fire investigations, those are under lock and key,” Fornell said. “They are still secure.”

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Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/

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