DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A spokeswoman for Detroit's Heidelberg Project says surveillance cameras recorded a person pouring something into the rear of a house in the outdoor art installation before setting it on fire.
Multiple houses in artist Tyree Guyton's installation have suffered repeated fires in recent months.
On the 40-second surveillance video released Wednesday, a person is seen walking into Heidelberg's "Taxi House." Seconds later, you see flames and the suspect running out — apparently on fire.
Footage has been turned over to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives which is working with Detroit arson investigators on this case.
"It's something we've been checking into, you know...nothing concrete a this time. But it's something that, certainly, we want the public to take a look at," ATF spokesman Donald Dawkins told WWJ's Stephanie Davis. "Someone that you may know, that all of a sudden shows up with some facial burns or hand burns or hair singes, or anything like that.
Authorities believe the suspect may also have burns to his or her upper body.
Dawkins said the video is a significant piece of evidence.
"We're looking to see if it can be enhanced," Dawkins said. "We certainly want to take time and take a look at it."
Artist Tyree Guyton founded the Heidelberg Project in 1986 in response to urban decay. The two-block area became known for its art created from vacant houses and shoes, clocks, vinyl records, stuffed animals and other found or discarded objects.
The "Taxi House" has tires on the outside and paintings of cars. Although it's still standing, it was badly burned the last weekend in November.
This was the first fire in 18 months at the installation, which has been known to draw art-enthusiasts from across the nation and has appeared in films and TV shows. Other structures torched over that time include the "Clock House," the "War House" and "The House of Soul."
Geronimo Patton, who works for the project, said damage to the "Taxi House" was comparatively light, as only the back side was burned.
"Stopping the Heidelberg Project is like stopping the wind from blowing — it can't be done," Patton said.
In a statement, project spokeswoman Katie Hearn thanked those who donated funds to buy a solar-powered video surveillance system.
"Without this system, we would have little to go on," said Hearn. "Now, we again place our faith in the authorities to help bring an end to the destruction. Although this series of attacks is a black-eye in the face of Detroit's progress, we can only search for solutions. As the world watches, an opportunity for a new kind of civic partnership presents itself."
"We are not firefighters, investigators or security experts; we are a small and dedicated group of citizens, artists, and educators who care about our city and humanity," she said.
Anyone who recognizes the suspect seen in the video or who knows anything about this crime is urged to call the Detroit Fire and Arson Tip Line at 313-628-2900. There is a $15,000 reward available for any information leading to an arrest and/or conviction in this case.
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