This is an update from our story last night on the bed bug treatment-related fire in Detroit.
The tenant who accidentally started the fire in Detroit on Tuesday has now spoken to journalists, offering a heartbreaking apology for her actions:
According to Fox 2 News, the tenant had bed bugs for a whole year, and desperation when the bed bug problem persisted after professionals treated the home led her to take matters into her own hands:
“They had sent exterminators over, but it didn’t work, and these things just kept at me, they just kept at me,” she says. “I went in there with clear skin, now my skin is all bitten up and looking like leather. I just want to get rid of these bed bug tormentors.”
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, says she killed some of the bedbugs a few weeks ago by turning up the heat in her west side apartment, which is near Outer Drive and Rouge Park. So, she says she did the same Tuesday and doused her floors with alcohol, which is often used to kill bedbugs. But, she also had her oven on and she did not know the fumes are flammable.
“When I was standing in the front room, the whole floor just ignited. The whole floor just ignited! I couldn’t get the fire extinguisher,” she says.
As we noted in our previous post, Fox 2 reported yesterday that officials had confirmed the fire was started after the tenant used a smoke bomb and then tried to put it out with a pillow.
It’s not clear from this report whether that is correct, but the tenant here reports that a floor sprayed with alcohol ignited from the lit oven.
Alcohol is a contact killer for bed bugs but is highly flammable and if used at all, should be used with great caution.
This is a tragic situation and the woman’s story of living with bed bugs for a year makes the desperate nature of her actions more understandable.
Her phone call on the news report is quite heartbreaking. I really hope she can forgive herself and move on.
No one should be in the position of living with bed bugs for so long. This story highlights the need both for education about how to kill bed bugs safely, what to expect during treatment, and how to resolve bed bug problems in apartment buildings.
If bed bug treatments fail, there will be reasons why (which might include attached neighbors with untreated infestations, or the methods being used, among other things).
If you are in this situation, there are safer options. Ask landlord to provide more treatment, and ask if they have professionally inspected attached units.
Don’t assume treatments can’t work. In this case, it isn’t clear whether the tenant had given up on professional treatments too soon, whether the landlord stopped providing them, or what other factors were involved.
Self-treatment can be done if professional treatment truly isn’t an option, but you need to educate yourself about safe and effective methods.
If you must self-treat, seek out good information from sources like the Comprehensive Guides to Bed Bugs and Treatment in our resources page, which offer treatment advice.
Above all else, please be careful.
Alcohol is flammable, smoke bombs and other bug bombs and foggers have their own dangers and don’t work well on bed bugs anyway, and heating your home to treat bed bugs isn’t a do it yourself job and can be dangerous.