Arson suspected, Columbus apartment complex a total loss

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Officials suspect a blaze that destroyed a Columbus apartment complex may have been intentionally set.

The massive fire destroyed the entire top floor of the Pleasant Point Apartments on 15th Avenue near Martin Luther King Boulevard and Cusseta Road in Columbus. 

Fire Marshal, chief Thomas Streeter, told News Leader 9 on Friday that occupants of the building believe the fire was intentionally set.

First responders say they arrived on the scene at 4:45 a.m. on Thursday. All residents were evacuated safely and fire crews controlled the morning blaze within 20 minutes. Although none of the tenants were injured, we are told a firemen received a minor burn to his hand. 

Meanwhile, investigators have ruled the building a total loss with an estimated damage of $200,000. An inspector has deemed the structure to be unstable, so no one will be allowed to go inside.  

American Red Cross volunteers are assisting residents with the basic needs.  They are providing tenants in 8 units with food, water, clothing and temporary housing. Also, teddy bears have been issued to the kids as a comfort. [Read: 13 Columbus families left homeless by fire get help]

Investigators have combed the rubble to determine the cause of the blaze. Battalion Chief Keith Watson says the fire may have started in the attic of the 20-unit complex.

Chief Streeter told News Leader 9, the building did have ceiling smoke detectors, but no fire extinguishers. Streeter added, it is an older building and they are not required to have them. 

At the moment, the claim of arson is being investigated and no other details can be released at this time.

Our news team is following this story. We'll have the latest information as soon as it becomes available.    
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