SAWMILLS, N.C. — A man accused of intentionally setting a three-alarm fire at a Caldwell County apartment complex is custody.
Timothy Allan Harmon turned himself in Friday afternoon in Burke County. Warrants have been issued against Harmon for first-degree arson and first-degree kidnapping in connection with the fire. Those warrants are expected to be served Friday night.
Fire crews were called around 6 a.m. Thursday to the Oak Tree Apartments on Oak Tree Lane, off Sawmills School Road near Business 321.
Investigators said Harmon, who had been kicked out of the apartments, fled the scene after setting the fire.
The first crews to arrive reported heavy smoke and flames coming from the apartments, and part of the roof had collapsed.
Officials said nobody was injured, but one renter told Channel 9 that he had to leap to safety from a second-floor deck.
Another person who lived in the apartments said he had time to grab his dog and run before the fire engulfed the building.
Chris Cannon spotted the flames and immediately went from unit to unit, waking people up to get them out safely. He said he's not a hero, and was just taking care of his neighbors.
"He saved my mama's life. That's all I can say," resident Debra Moore said. "He saved our life. (If) he hadn't come knocking on the door we would have burned up."
"Thank God above I was up, hands down that's what counts. (The) good Lord got me out of the bed this morning," Cannon said.
Cannon hopes deputies find Harmon soon.
"He better hope I don't see him walking the road like I do,” Harmon told Channel 9. “I won't run over him, I'm going to stop and give him what he damn well deserves. He could have caused about eight people to have lost their lives."
A total of six units were damaged in the fire.
The Red Cross and a local church are helping all of the residents of the six apartments salvage what they can and start over. Cannon and the other renters are hoping for justice in the case.
"I know the sorry little (expletive) that set it and if I catch him, the Sheriff's Office better hope they catch him before I do," Cannon said.
Fire investigators said they’ll be trying to determine if some type of accelerant was used to start the fire, but there's so much damage that they have to be extremely cautious when they go inside.
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