Halloween is just a few days away, time for little trick-or-treaters to come out in full costume to beg for candy loot.
Of course, if you live in the Detroit area, the traditions are slightly different. The two days before Halloween were infamously known as “Devil’s Night,” when arsonists would come out and torch houses. In some cases, hundreds of homes and buildings would be on fire, causing the fire department to be stretched thin. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Halloween was more a time to be feared than it was a happy holiday.
Then local residents began to push back. Community groups began to patrol. There is a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. for anyone under the age of 18 for the two days prior to Halloween, and 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on October 31. The city decided to change the name from Devil’s Night to Angel’s Night.
While some firebugs manage to get in a torching or two, the recent past has seen a definite decrease in the number of fires set in Detroit during this time. This is a good thing, 100% due to the diligence of Detroit’s residents.
This year, the City of Detroit has announced something new: They will restrict gasoline sales in the city during the Angel’s Night period. If not going into a car, gas can only be dispensed in approved containers. If you are buying gas for a container, you must give your name, address and license number to the station.
All of this is fine and dandy, but what would stop a hell-bent arsonist from running across 8 Mile to Ferndale or Oak Park and buying flammables there? Wouldn’t those with fire-mischief in mind figure out a northern suburban gas station without such restrictions be a great place to get raw materials?