Fire that destroyed office building at east Charlotte apartments ruled arson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive fire that destroyed a clubhouse and leasing office at an east Charlotte apartment complex early Monday has been ruled arson, officials said.

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The two-alarm fire broke out around 2:45 a.m. at the complex on Kelston Place near Albemarle Road.

Channel 9 was there as more than 50 firefighters worked to make sure the flames didn't spread to nearby buildings and units.

The blaze was under control in about 35 minutes and firefighters rushed to put out the remaining hot spots with water. Crews could be seen using a ladder truck to spray down the leasing office from overhead.

Officials said the flames heavily damaged the leasing office, clubhouse, laundry room and pool. Hours after crews arrived at the scene, flames and smoke were still rising from the roof of the buildings.

The roof of the leasing office was completely gone.

No injuries were reported.

“I thought a car was backing in and I saw a red light, so I open the blinds I look a little to the right -- the office was on fire,” said DeAndre Sutton. "Big time. Flames all the way above the trees."

"I just came out, all I saw was fire, flames up in the air," resident Shyaquana James said.

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Just after noon, investigators told Channel 9 that the fire was intentionally set and caused more than $300,000 in damage.

What makes the incident especially troubling is that it's the second major two-alarm fire that officials have responded to in the past five days. Investigators said someone set another fire Thursday at an apartment complex on Prospect Drive in north Charlotte damaging four apartments.

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Fire investigators said there is so much damage they may not be able to determine where the fire was set, or whether it was in any way tied to last week’s fire.

Monday’s fire isn’t the first issue Channel 9 has investigated at the complex. Two months ago, residents told reporter Mark Barber they were living in unsafe conditions.

[RELATED: Residents claim they're living in unsafe conditions at east Charlotte apartment complex]

It remains unclear if any of those concerns are connected to the fire.

Residents told Channel 9 they were not surprised to hear it was ruled arson.

"I don't know if it would result to that, but tenants do get angry at them for not keeping up with the property, not keeping up with the maintenance," resident Brandy Brown said.

The fire comes four days after another intentionally set fire destroyed the office at an apartment complext on Prospect Drive in north Charlotte. Investigators do not have any suspects in that case either.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

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