The city imposed a curfew and organized patrols by residents toting fire extinguishers, while free cable TV was offered to keep firebugs home Tuesday night during Devil's Night, Detroit's pre-Halloween arson spree.
The measures are part of an effort by Detroit to remake its lawless image and end the annual outbreak of fires that has become a national embarrassment.Devil's Night is actually three nights of vandalism, beginning two nights before Halloween and peaking one night before.
Mayor Coleman A. Young last week unveiled a "My Heart is with Detroit" campaign, urging residents to take pride in their city and step up anti-arson patrols.
More than 35,000 residents and city workers have volunteered to keep an eye out for arsonists, Young said. Rewards of up to $1,500 have been offered for information leading to the conviction of arsonists.
Volunteers wearing red-and-white "My Heart is with Detroit" T-shirts and caps began walking the streets Monday night, some carrying fire extinguishers to put out small blazes.
Until the 1970s, Devil's Night featured typical Halloween tricks such as egg tossing, covering homes and yards with toilet paper and burning piles of leaves.
Then came larger fires, set in garages, trash bins or abandoned homes, bringing flames that sometimes spread to occupied houses.
The worst Devil's Night came in 1984, when 810 fires were set during the three-day period. Last year, there were 223 fires between Oct. 29 and Oct. 31, 115 of them on the night before Halloween.