Detroit tenant watched alcohol-sprayed floor ignite

by nobugsonme on November 5, 2015 · 16 comments

in bed bugs, detroit, fire, landlords and tenants, michigan

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.

1 Winston O. Buggy November 7, 2015 at 6:37 pm

It’s ok now, she said she was sorry.

2 nobugsonme November 8, 2015 at 3:30 am

Well, she was on suicide watch, so I think she was very upset.

Living with bed bugs can make people desperate, as you know.

3 Gwen D November 13, 2015 at 12:43 pm

i have much compassion for this woman. I will say a prayer that she can forgive herself.

4 gandydancer November 27, 2015 at 6:16 am

I just saw this and it is heartbreaking. I feel so terrible for this poor woman. I would be at the very end of my tether after a year spent with these awful creatures.

I too sprayed my carpets and some of my clothes with alcohol (and then threw them in the dryer, unbelievably stupid of me!) and was really dousing it based on what a NYC friend had told me to do until I came here and read the horror stories of rubbing alcohol. In retrospect, I feel very lucky that I didn’t burn the house down.

To be frank, I don’t think it was doing anything anyhow. I also made the very stupid mistake of inhaling a ton of it and subsequently having stomach troubles for a day or so.

So close to the holidays as well. I’ll be thinking of this woman and I hope she is not out in the cold at such a time of year. Horrible, sad story.

5 Mateo December 1, 2015 at 1:13 am

All of us that have that rich blood will always be the one these bugs go after. It doesn’t matter how much you do they will always come back. You can pick them up practically anywhere. Movies, friends, malls and restaurant’s etcetera. I feel for that lady. I to have been in that situation. It sucks she lost all here belongings and home along with others. But nobody has done anything about these bugs. Everywhere in the united states is becoming infested. Something needs to be done. We the people have rights and need to STAND UP!! This has become a major world crisis epidemic. Many don’t believe while others like her and me suffer form these bugs and there bites. Infestations carry on worldwide and many of us are flat out tired and going insa e , spending hard earned money on rented homes, apartments , condos rented rooms etcetera. I know way back in the day we defeated these bugs but also lost a lot of human lives. There has to be a way for us to defeat these bugs without losing lives or housing. But someone needs to pay before others end up like that women that burned down here and others homes. If you lived years , months or even days with these bed bugs don’t you think that you would be a little insane or desperate to take measures into your own hands if these exterminators can’t even do there jobs right? No one can kills these bugs without heat or cold. There just like roaches, there unstoppable. I am with everyone that said a prayer for this women who started the fire. Who ever has these bed bugs I feel for you. And I too will say a prayer , god will answer and maybe someone will stand up and do something about these bugs before they too take over like roaches . you ca t keep sweeping these bugs under the carpet. Because they all are already under that carpet, walls , picture frames , electronics, sofas, beds , clothes , cars , trucks . they are everywhere the human eye can’t see.

6 nobugsonme December 1, 2015 at 2:07 am

I agree that we need to have compassion for this woman and to do more to help people fight bed bugs.
It is true that bed bugs are a formidable opponent, but it is not true that they are unstoppable.
They are successfully treated every day, even in apartment buildings.

Spreading the misinformation that bed bugs can’t be successfully treated actually makes things worse, in my opinion, because it may deter people from seeking help where it is available.

7 Tanya December 1, 2015 at 11:24 pm

Bed bugs are very treatable. I’ve eradicated them many times in many homes and apartments. It takes an educated professional and complete co-operation from tenet/home owner. It takes a lot of time and co-operation AND BE WILLING TO THROW STUFF AWAY !!!!

8 Reputable Warrior December 19, 2015 at 10:53 am

Oh the perilous plight,
Of the warriors with might.
Who encounter and fight,
The vampires who bite.
In the still of the night.

God bless this fellow warrior!!

9 Dan December 21, 2015 at 11:17 am

This is so terrible. After being on wits-end for so long and then this happening – and to top it off she then feels the need to have to apologies with all of this on her mind!

I hope she overcomes this horrible point in her life and also hope that this will persuade other readers to remain aware and to be careful when dealing with such dangerous substances.

10 Patti January 13, 2016 at 2:59 am

This is a plague,maybe when these hell bugs show up at the Whitehouse then something will be done about them,these bugs are embarrassing to admit you have and hell to get rid of.My story started exactly 1 yr ago and I just learned before ordering yet something else to try and rid my home of these gross cowards that they can live for 18 months without feeding and still survive,and I’m praying we can stick it out. I have a friend that told me she had them,but only if I knew what I know today we would’ve been pen pals.You know the old saying if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas,not so quick to judge when it come to the hell bugs,I have killed 1 crawling out of my bag at my Dr’s office,so that tells me that they can hitch a ride to anyplace,I have found them hiding in books,bibles,my purse,on me and my son’s jacket in a public place,they hide in your pants anywhere they can get away from light they just can crawl into if they’re not full of your blood,they crawl into light sockets,behind clocks,pictures,between beans of wood,above and behind door frames oh the list doesn’t stop.I have woke up with scratches on my face from them trying to bite on my face and evidently me scratching myself in my sleep.Anyway around 12/1/14 my son almost lost his life and was put on life support I kept vigil by his bedside and decided I would sleep in his bed to feel closer to him so I closed off my room and only came in to change clothes.After I got my son we’ll and we got home I started back sleeping in my bed,I’m retired and have flare ups that keep me in bed at least 2_3 days out of the week,so I would see these strange looking bugs mind you i was 56 and had only heard of the word in the little song we use to sing ”nite nite don’t let the bed bugs bite”,hell I didn’t know they were real so I sure didn’t know what they looked like,so I would kill the bug then spray around my bed. One day my daughter asked if my grandson could come over and I was sleep so he was sleepy and he just came and jumped in the bed with me,well they feasted on him and he was allergic to they’re bite and we fell out and he’s not allowed over here anymore..yea all that good stuff and he’s my only grandson,anyway after that I started paying more attention and 1 Saturday morning after waking up with a big scratches across my eyebrow I looked over my head and caught 1 running behind my curtain,I looked behind the curtain and found the 1st nest,they were all on top of each other,all colors and sizes,I didn’t have nothing and it grossed me out so much all I could think to do was grab a can of hair spray and I think I used about 10 cans and it froze them in place and I rolled up the curtain and threw it into my backyard if I knew what I know now I would’ve burned it,but I was so grossed out I went to the store bought about 10 more cans and Raid bedbug spray,I gave up my room and started sleeping on a mattress in my living room and set off about 6 bombs in my room,while out of my room I found out they could live months without feeding so I’m like Awh hell nah I’m not going back in there for a while,well they’re food supply was gone so they went through the wall that my son and I share and started showing up in the living now three disabled persons are in 1 spot of the house by now my curtains in my room and my son’s room are down,I didn’t realize that some had survived the hair spray fight and after it cooked off the curtains or washed off they had headed back into the house through the back door so we’re all in 1 room fussing over the remote or anything else we could come up with so I decided I was going to bomb the whole house had scheduled Dr appt’s for everybody,feeling pretty good about all the knowledge I had accumulated over 6 months I forgot about the alcohol fight I had with them from 10_2:30am 1 night..couple of days later having bite marks and seeing 1 trying to hide behind a curtain in my restroom,I told me son these things don’t stop. So the man that accidentally set an apt building on fire and the woman that did the same I can understand because you do things thinking it’s going to mane them go away it drains you mentally and physically and if I wasn’t the strong woman that I am I would have lost my mind by now. It’s bad that the public is on its on and I would venture out to say this was a decisive decision by some to stop using whatever pesticide the government had been using all these years.I wish someone could find something about that..for those who don’t have the problem don’t be so quick to judge others because you go out in public and you have family function just educate yourself so will know what to look for

11 nobugsonme January 13, 2016 at 3:20 am


Sorry you have bed bugs.

“I just learned before ordering yet something else to try and rid my home of these gross cowards that they can live for 18 months without feeding and still survive”

Experts tell us this is based on outdated information and current populations have a much shorter lifespan.

“while out of my room I found out they could live months without feeding so I’m like Awh hell nah I’m not going back in there for a while,well they’re food supply was gone so they went through the wall that my son and I share and started showing up in the living room”

Bed bugs won’t live months without feeding in your home because you moved to another room. They will soon move to where the food is.

You said you used 6 bombs– this is a bad idea because they can spread bed bugs in your home and because they don’t do a good job of eliminating them.

Bed bugs CAN be eliminated but it’s not easy.

Please come to our forums if you would like additional feedback and suggestions or support.

12 Kay April 20, 2016 at 3:36 am

Please tell me if baby bedbugs burrow in your skin!?

13 Kay April 20, 2016 at 3:42 am

If I rub for instance the bottoms of my feet,ankles,knee area, elbows,legs, arms…etc these reddish brown bugs of varying sizes and sometimes shapes come POURING OUT OF MY SKIN……….they are all pretty small but, there are HUNDREDS OF THEM!! I can’t keep losing my sleep .Already have adrenal fatigue .

14 Kay April 20, 2016 at 3:44 am

Maybe they are some other bug because I have never seen any adults. They are worse at night though.

15 nobugsonme April 23, 2016 at 12:30 am

Bed bugs cannot burrow in your skin. Those are not bed bugs.
I do not know what might cause such a problem. I don’t know of any pests which can cause this.
Please see a medical doctor and show them what is happening.

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