Fire chief: Detroit apartment blaze was arson

The Associated Press

DETROIT — A fire that destroyed a Detroit apartment building and forced some adults and children to leap from second- and third-floor windows was intentionally set, a city arson official said Thursday.

Some type of accelerant was found amid the rubble following Wednesday morning’s blaze at the Jason Manor Apartments on the city’s west side, though it wasn’t immediately clear to officials exactly what that accelerant was.

Dozens of people lost everything in the fire. At least four were hospitalized, and several others were treated at the scene for their injuries.

Crews used heavy machinery Thursday to dig through the collapsed roof, fallen walls and piles of bricks in search for victims. Cadaver dogs also were expected to be brought in.

Although no bodies have been found, officials have yet to account for a few residents, Detroit Fire Arson chief Charles Simms said.

“Our focal point now, mainly, is to make sure there are no bodies left,” he told WWJ-AM. “But at this point, we have no indication that we’ll find anybody.”

The fire was reported at 6 a.m. Wednesday and was described as fast-moving by some residents of the building.

Investigators were trying to determine Thursday whether the accelerant was gasoline or some other type of fuel, Detroit Fire Commissioner Jonathan Jackson told The Associated Press.

Firefighters spent several hours Wednesday putting out flames and lingering hotspots, and the water flooded the building’s bottom floor. Crews pumped water from lower-level apartments Thursday.

Police also were trying to determine whether there’s a connection between the blaze and a reported sexual assault a few hours earlier in one of the apartments.

“At this point, we’re gathering more evidence and information,” Simms said. “So, we’re hoping to have closure to this whole case very shortly. We’re working closely with different units in the Detroit Police Department to connect other crimes to this fire.”

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