A suspect has been arrested after an investigation determined a Sunday night apartment fire was the result of arson, Eldon Ledoux, a St. George Fire Department spokesman.
Flames incinerated the Jefferson Highway apartment Sunday night, and the apartment’s occupant was detained after witnesses saw him shouting and arguing loudly with fellow tenants. That person was not identified and it was not clear if he was the person arrested.
Two of the ten apartments in the building in which the fire occurred suffered major fire damage. The remaining eight suffered damage from the heavy smoke and heat and water damage. All ten apartments are without electricity because fire burned through the wires in the attic. A vehicle parked near the building was damaged.
The Red Corss sent a disaster assistance team to the scene to assist victims.
St. George firefighters received the call at 7:35 p.m., and when they arrived at the two-story complex at 7950 Jefferson Highway four minutes later, flames were emerging from a second-story apartment, Ledoux said.
By the time the flames were declared under control at 8:15 p.m., fire and smoke had spread to several nearby units.
Two residents were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, and one firefighter was treated for a minor heat-related injury, but none required treatment at the hospital, Ledoux said.
The sudden eruption of fire startled complex residents. Ian Magette was eating dinner with his girlfriend about 7:30 p.m. Sunday and had just called two friends to watch the Saints game when he heard a car horn outside and someone shouting about a fire.
When Magette stepped outside his second-story apartment, he could see flames billowing about 5 feet out from the balcony of a unit at the building’s end. A light fixture also shattered from the heat.
He and his girlfriend then beat on people’s doors as the fire and smoke spread to nearby units.
A large crowd of residents gathered outside as firefighters fought the blaze. Magette and other witnesses could see a man in a blue shirt cursing and shouting that the destroyed apartment was his. The man also punched a nearby fence in anger.
A sheriff’s deputy could be seen forcing the man against a car and handcuffing him before leading him away from the scene around 8:30 p.m.
No further information about the fire’s cause was available Sunday, as the fire was still under investigation.