BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) — A structure fire that ended up damaging multiple apartments over the weekend is now being investigated as arson, and police say they have identified a potential suspect.
According to a release from the Washington County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), officers were dispatched to an apartment complex in the 24000 block of Wilson Haus Road on Sunday night in reference to a structure fire. When they arrived, the fire had reportedly spread to multiple apartments in the area.
“There were two apartments fully involved and then a third one had some fire coming out of the window,” said Washington Co. Va. Fire and Rescue Chief Chuck Harosky. “It was a pretty good fire. It could have been a lot worse, but we did have some quick response with a couple of agencies so they were able to get a good knock on the fire.”
Harosky said it took four different agencies and several hours to put the blaze out. Two EMS units responded and one person did have to be rescued from a unit. But, no injuries were reported.
The investigation is being led by the WCSO with assistance from Virginia State Police and was announced as a case of possible arson on Monday.
“As deputies were responding and first responders were on their way, they got information that one of the people that lived here at the apartments had possibly set the fire and they did come in contact with that individual, and he was evidently going through a mental health crisis at the time so they took him into custody,” Sheriff Blake Andis said. “We’re getting the investigators right now to take samples and everything to make sure and confirm it was an arson. And even though they’re having a medical crisis, that don’t exempt them from criminal charges.”
While the release stated that a potential suspect had been identified, it did not provide the identity of the suspect.
“All these places have smoke damage, water damage, structural damage and no power or water to the place, so we’ve had a lot of families put out,” said Andis. “Investigators right now are just able to get into the scene and process it, and from there we’ll get together and see the burn patterns and everything that happened and then get with the commonwealth attorney and talk to them in regards to securing charges.”
The fire displaced 26 people, and all have been housed as of Monday.
The release specified that the WCSO believes there is no danger to the public as of Monday afternoon.