UAW Fire Update: Still Looking Somewhat Sketchy

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

The Detroit Fire Department has been going back and forth on the July 13th fire at the United Automobile Workers’ headquarters since its investigation began. Arson was initially on the table before being swiftly ruled out, and the probe continued by private investigators contending with insurance claims, seemingly free of suspicion.

Investigators now believe the fire could have been set intentionally, without attaching any conviction to those claims.

“I was told at the time that they did not think it was arson,” Detroit Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Dave Fornell told Automotive News in an interview from Monday. “That wasn’t a final verdict … When I did some inquiries with the press, I asked investigators and they were saying at that point it was ruled out.”

From Automotive News:

The fire at the UAW took place amid a broadening federal investigation into corruption at the highest levels of the union’s leadership. Gary Jones has since resigned as UAW president and was replaced last month by Rory Gamble. Altogether, 13 union and Fiat Chrysler officials have been charged with crimes; 11 have pleaded guilty.

That timing served to make the whole event suspicious; plenty of unsubstantiated claims arose that a hypothetical arsonist could have been trying to destroy evidence. But justice cannot be sussed out via speculation and real evidence may still be forthcoming. The FBI subpoenaed the UAW for visitor logs and security camera footage in the days proceeding the fire at the union’s HQ, which were turned over in August.

“The Department of Justice is very suspicious about that fire if they’re asking for video and visitor logs. They’re concerned records may have been destroyed in the fire, and God forbid if it was arson,” Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor, told The Detroit News last week. “If evidence was destroyed, that’s obstruction of justice.”

While the status of the FBI’s investigation remains less than clear, the local probe is still open with little to no interdepartmental contact with the feds. “The FBI has never contacted me regarding this fire and have not taken over the origin and cause investigation,” Copley said on Monday. “If the FBI is independently investigating the fire, I have no knowledge of the extent of that investigation.”

[Image: James R. Martin/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Dave M. The Outback alternates between decent design and goofy design every generation. 2005 was attractive, 2010 goofy. 2015 decent. 2020 good, but the ‘23 refresh hideous.Looking forward to the Outback hybrid in ‘26…..
  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
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