Police have surveillance footage of suspected Everman arsonist

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by MARCUS MOORE & JIM DOUGLAS

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WFAA

Posted on January 3, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 3 at 10:28 PM

Everman Apartment Fire

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EVERMAN –– Fire officials say police have identified a suspect and are hoping to soon make an arrest in Thursday's devastating arson fire that displaced 60 residents.  

Randy Sanders, the city’s director of emergency services, said law enforcement officials are drawing up an arrest warrant. The Oakwood Terrace Apartments, located at 917 Coury Street, went up in flames at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Some residents had to leap from their balconies to escape.

"In the 45 years that I've (worked with the fire department), this is the worst situation I've ever seen," Sanders said.

Portions of the fire still smoldered Friday morning.

Witnesses reported seeing a man set the building on fire as revenge because a resident refused to let him inside her home. Sanders said the suspect had been arrested in the past for arson, but a grand jury decided there wasn't enough evidence to indict him. 

Sanders said investigators have surveillance video of the suspect at the scene just before dawn Thursday morning. Law enforcement officials don't want the man to slip away again and say officers are monitoring his movements. 

Sanders said he was previously evicted from the apartment complex and may have been intoxicated when he returned Thursday morning to ask for someone to let him in. When that failed, police suspect he doused an apartment door with lighter fluid and lit it. 

Thursday's fire destroyed 24 units and displaced 60 residents, according to numbers released by the Red Cross.  Many of the fire survivors found lodging at a Red Cross shelter set up at the Highland Hills Community Center in nearby Fort Worth.  

When asked what she wants for the man accused of burning down the apartment Carolyn Roney said, "I want prayer for him. He needs help. I just want everyone to be OK."  

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the blaze. Officials credited Good Samaritans with helping save lives Thursday morning.   

Fire fighters were hampered by two major problems: calcium buildup in a tanker with limited water flow and low water pressure caused by responders tapping three hydrants. 

The Red Cross is assisting residents displaced by the fire. The shelter is expected to be open for several days. 

Officials say the suspect is facing arson and attempted capital murder charges.

Email mmoore@wfaa.com

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