A Tuesday morning fire at a Hammond apartment complex is being investigated as an aggravated arson, the state Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed Wednesday.
Crews were called to 46037 Rufus Bankston Road around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning where they encountered the blaze in one of the building’s four units, Deputy Chief Brant Thompson said. All four units were occupied, but everyone escaped unharmed. The apartment that bore the brunt of the damage had up to eight people inside at the time of the fire. Thompson said a married couple and a child lived there, and other friends and family members were also inside when the blaze erupted.
Investigators found multiple points of origin for the fire in the unit, Thompson said. Dogs were brought in to sniff out whether any accelerants were used, but the deputy chief declined to discuss whether they found any, saying the investigation was still in its early stages.
His office has not named a suspect or a potential motive for the arson, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
“It’s a real tragedy,” Thompson said. “Human life could be lost … as a result of this fire.”
The apartment most affected is a townhouse, and the deputy chief said it sustained “very severe damage” to the lower level and took “heavy smoke damage” and heat damage upstairs.
Natalbany fire crews were able to contain the flames, and the other three units received only light smoke damage, he continued.