OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - There are new details in the ongoing investigation into this week’s apartment fire in East Alabama that left a suspect behind bars and several families without a place to call home.
Fire officials aren’t saying exactly how the fire started, but the Opelika Police Department has made an arrest.
31-year-old Frederick Ashmore is in the Lee County Detention Center after police say he admitted to starting a fire at the Pinehurst Villa Apartments in Opelika Thursday morning.
“He was brought into the Opelika Police Department where he was interviewed. Once interviewed, he confessed to the crime, and at that point, a warrant, several warrants were sworn out for his arrest,” said Captain Tony Amerson of the Opelika Police Department.
Amerson says Ashmore’s girlfriend told police she believes he set the apartment complex on fire.
“They did contact some of the residents. The residents kind of assisted in helping us get some of the information that we needed to try to solve this crime as quickly as possible,” said Amerson.
In the meantime, several local organizations, including the Red Cross, have been assisting the residents that were displaced in the fire.
The Triple Threat car club in Opelika collected $500 Thursday to buy clothing, bedding, and hygiene products for the families.
“They needed it, so you have to think how you would feel if you lost everything, if you had absolutely positively nothing and you had to start over from ground zero. You would be heartbroken, so our feelings are not only for the residents kicked in, but just feelings in general,” said Tyinsha Lewis, Triple Threat’s management vice president.
Some car club members live at the Pinehurst Villas say it made them want to help even more.
“It affected them as well, knowing that we live in the same residence, and to see one of our neighbors at a loss, all we could do was stand up as a community and make sure we did what we had to do,” said Elaye Johnson, a resident of Pinehurst Villas and member of Triple Threat.