A Conway man faces charges of arson and first-degree battery after two people were injured, a dog died and 17 residents were displaced in an early-morning blaze Monday at Germantown Apartments.
Shortly before 4:30 a.m., the Conway police and fire departments got a call about a fire at the Germantown Apartment Complex, officials said.
"When they arrived on the scene at 955 South German Lane, they found the building engulfed in flames and residents escaping the building," Conway Police Department spokesman LaTresha Woodruff said. "Firefighters immediately started working to put out the fire."
David Hartsell, a 50-year-old tenant of the complex, was taken into custody a few hours after the fire and is being held without bond in the Faulkner County Detention Center.
"During the course of the investigation to determine what caused the fire, officials saw some suspicious items in Hartsell’s apartment there at Germantown Apartments," Woodruff said. "Detectives brought him in for questioning and later arrested Hartsell."
Sisters Amanda and Kellie Moore share an apartment in the building that burned and told the Log Cabin Democrat on the scene they initially believed an electrical problem caused the fire.
"We assumed it was electrical because one of our neighbors had the fire department come out because they had a socket that kept getting really hot," Kellie said. "We just assumed that until they told us someone started it."
Amanda said they were told there was an altercation before the fire.
"There was a fight that broke out before he started the fire," she said.
The sisters said their neighbors were heroes.
"It was the residents in our building that saved everybody’s life because they were the ones running around pounding on doors," Amanda said. "They kicked in the door when no one came to the door to make sure that no one was inside.
"If someone hadn’t pounded on our door at 4 in the morning, our animals could have died from smoke inhalation. We could have died from smoke inhalation."
Amanda said once they realized what was going on, her sister immediately took action.
"Smoke started coming through bathroom cabinets and superwoman over here just flips the couch over trying to find the cat," she said, pointing at Kellie. "We were able to get everything. Some people lost everything."
Woodruff said two residents were injured when they jumped from the second floor to escape the blaze and one pet was killed.
"Firefighters rescued several pets; unfortunately, one dog died in the fire," she said.
The building that burned housed 12 apartments — six of which sustained "heavy fire damage" while the other six sustained "smoke damage," officials said.
The Red Cross and Lindsey Management are working with the 17 displaced residents to find them new homes.
"The Red Cross has done a lot — [we] got a hotel for two days," Kellie said. "Lindsey Management says they should have everyone re-housed within the next 24 hours."