DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Firefighters say an apartment fire in DeKalb County Friday morning was an act of arson.
Several apartment units at Northlake Manor Condominiums were severely damaged by the fire that was started after 7 a.m. on the 3500 block of Woodbriar Circle. Police took one man into custody at the scene.
Residents said they were woken up by the strong smell of smoke and had minutes to get out of their apartments.
Police put the man in handcuffs shortly after firefighters arrived on the scene. One of the man’s neighbors, Ajani Oden, said the man in handcuffs started the fire. He said he saw the man dangling from a balcony railing as the fire tore through the building. The man was later standing in the parking lot watching the building burn until police arrived.
Oden said he is grateful that no one was hurt.
"I thank God, I thank the man upstairs you know, for waking us all up," he said. "All the kids, all the neighbors, and even the guy who started it, because he was even up on the balcony during the fire."
Oden said that the man was making a lot of noise in the middle of the night and had been banging on people’s doors with a flashlight.
Antoine Evans lived in the apartment below the man with his fiancé and two stepsons. He said they were starting their day when the fire began to tear through the building.
"I’m about to get ready for work and take them to school and I hear all this banging on the door, Evans said. "Then, I’m smelling smoke and I run outside. I had no clothes so I had to run back in and throw some clothes on, grab the kids, run everybody out of the house."
On Friday afternoon, the American Red Cross was on the scene to help those were displaced by the blaze. According to officials, the blaze affected 10 units and destroyed eight units, displacing around 18 people.
Police said that DeKalb County Fire Rescue Department is handling the investigation. They have not yet released how the man allegedly started the fire.
Investigators have not said what charges the man is facing.
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