Celebratory Fires Erupt in Ann Arbor after University of Michigan’s National Championship Win

Ann Arbor fire crews extinguished 17 fires on Jan. 8, 2024, following Michigan Football_s national championship win. (Ann Arbor Fire Department)

On the night of Jan. 8, fans flooded the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan, to celebrate the University of Michigan’s NCAA football championship win. The Wolverines secured a victory against the Washington Huskies, resulting in their first national championship since 1997.

Firefighters in Ann Arbor responded to a total of 21 incidents throughout the night, concentrating their efforts in campus housing areas south of UM’s central campus. South University Avenue between East University and Forest was filled with crowds, with fans setting fire to a mattress, several couches, and piles of debris in the streets.

Ann Arbor Fire Chief Mike Kennedy identified instances of unlawful behavior during the post-game celebrations, including the setting of a couch on fire near the intersection of South University and Church Street. Fortunately, the swift response of officers and first responders ensured that the fires were extinguished as soon as possible, and no injuries were reported.

Chris Page of the Ann Arbor Police highlighted additional incidents, such as the destruction of a stop sign at the same intersection. Despite these disruptions, no private or business properties, structures, or vehicles suffered damage, thanks to the coordinated efforts of emergency responders. Police managed the crowd by erecting street barricades, maintaining order, and ensuring public safety throughout the night.

Michigan State Police played a pivotal role in speeding up the fire department’s response by using a state helicopter and night vision equipment to locate and identify the fires. This collaboration significantly contributed to faster response times, preventing the escalation of fires or uncontrollable crowds.

While the celebration and chaos unfolded, Ann Arbor police reported no injuries or arrests related to post-game celebrations. Ann Arbor Fire Chief Mike Kennedy emphasized the challenges of conducting a formal investigation into the fires due to the nature of the crowd and the challenges of gathering information.

Kennedy said the fires were at least away from buildings and crowds were peacefully dispersing when firefighters arrived.

The conduct of fans should not cast a shadow over the stellar performances of Michigan’s football team. The Wolverines overpowered the Huskies 34-13. The Wolverines showcased performances from key players like Blake Corum and a strong defense. This historic win marked the end of a three-year journey for head coach Jim Harbaugh and the team, overcoming significant challenges, including dealing with a sign-stealing scandal. Michigan’s path to the championship featured wins against Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa, and Alabama, with returning players like Corum, Kris Jenkins, Zak Zinter, Trevor Keegan, and Mike Sainristil playing pivotal roles. The 15-0 season is one of the most successful in Michigan football history.

The Wolverines showcased a relentless defense, particularly targeting Washington’s Heisman Trophy finalist, Michael Penix Jr., Michigan’s top-ranked defense applied consistent pressure on Penix, resulting in two crucial interceptions. Spearheaded by cornerback Mike Sainristil, the Wolverine defense suppressed Washington’s high-powered spread passing attack, keeping star Huskies like Penix and Odunze in check. Running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards rushed for 134 and 104 yards, respectively, each scoring two touchdowns.

The championship game against Washington demonstrated Michigan’s unconventional style of play. The Wolverines, led by quarterback J.J. McCarthy, went against football trends, going for an old-school running game over a passing attack. In an era where passing is often seen as essential for championships, Michigan showcased the effectiveness of a relentless ground game.

On the trophy presentation stage, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh acknowledged the team’s remarkable journey, stating, “What they’ve done for the last 372 days is amazing. We’re champions.”