by: Dave Faherty Updated:
HICKORY, N.C. - Investigators are now calling a fire that forced 22 people out of their Hickory apartments “intentional.”
For much of the day investigators moved items out of the apartments.
Firefighters focused much of their efforts where they believe the fire started.
A state arson dog entered one of the buildings and within minutes investigators began removing evidence from several locations around the apartment.
“People could have died. A whole bunch of people could have died,” said Jasmine Propst.
Propst said she began alerting neighbors around 2:30 a.m. to get out after discovering a couch on fire inside the apartment.
She said she had been evicted from the unit last week, but returned around 2 a.m. to retrieve clothes. She said the fire wasn’t the first thing she noticed.
IMAGES: 22 displaced after 3-alarm apartment fire in Hickory
“When I got there the window and door was busted open and the firefighters weren’t here yet,” she said. “I was thinking someone broke into the house and someone set my house on fire.”
The Red Cross is helping the victims, putting them up in local motels.
One of those victims, Jasmine Israel, hopes if the fire was set, police will be able to find the person responsible.
“You could see the flames shooting up,” said Israel.
Investigators say no power was running to the apartment.
“Whoever did this is a cruel, cold and malice person, and I hope they find him,” Israel said.
Investigators told Channel 9 all of that evidence removed from the apartment will be sent to the state lab for testing to determine if any kind of accelerant was possibly poured in the apartment before the fire.
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