Lincoln Park pastor blames firefighter response for home burning down

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A sprawling 3,700 square-foot ranch on Outer Drive in Lincoln Park was all but reduced to rubble after a fire in late February. 

The fire started in the back of the house and spread throughout. The owner says it burned for an hour and more could have been done to limit the damage. 

"This used to be the kitchen nook right here," said Pastor Terry Banks.

Banks, the homeowner, accuses Lincoln Park firefighters of dragging their feet when it came to attacking the blaze.

"They sent someone down there to check the fire hydrant, the water, and they said ain't no water coming out," Banks said. "And they sat there."

FOX 2: "For how long?"

"For about an hour," Banks said. "An hour."

FOX 2: "You are sure?"

"About an hour," Banks said.

All the while, his home was burning. Banks says the firefighters eventually hooked up to another hydrant and fire departments from Ecorse and Wyandotte came to 
help put out the flames. But the damage was done.

Pastor David Parker, a retired Detroit firefighter and friend of Banks, came to the home as it burned.

FOX 2: "In your professional opinion, could this home have been saved?"

"Very much so, it could've been saved," Banks said. "There was no tag on that hydrant then, there is no tag on it now. The attitude that was displayed, there was no passion and an effort to help sustain the well-being of this, my friend, this pastor's home. and it was heart wrenching to see something like that transpire."

Banks believes the fire department's response was racially motivated.

"I overhear one of them say 'We're not putting that (n-word's) fire out," Banks said.

FOX 2: "Who did he say that to?"

"He said that to ... I guess he was saying it out loud to one another," Banks said. 

Pastor W.J. Rideout says he wants to see justice for Pastor Banks. 

"I want to see justice for his family," Rideout. "We want answers from the mayor, answers from the fire chief, answers from the city attorney."

Lincoln Park fire chief and city manager were unavailable for comment but the city attorney says the fire department did all it could to save the Banks' home.

He says firefighters had trouble getting through the copper ceiling that provided the house's radiant heating. 

As for Banks' claim about a firefighter making that racist comment, the city attorney says he does not believe that happened. 

The city attorney went on to say that the fire is not being called suspicious and that the home is not a total loss. In the meantime, Rideout is planning a demonstration in Lincoln Park City Hall.