3-Alarm Houston Apartment Fire Ruled Arson

HOUSTON --

A three-alarm fire that ripped through a northwest Houston apartment complex early Friday has been ruled intentional.

Houston firefighters said the fire broke out at the Westview Court Apartments on Witte Road near Long Point Road about 2:15 a.m.

"The popping of glass and then just a cascade of fire into my living room," is how resident Mike Schanzmeyer described the blaze. "I just had a chance to jump out the back window."

The fire originated in a unit where someone had recently been evicted, investigators said.

Schanzmeyer said the evicted family had a long battle with management.

"They started the process in a justice court probably two months ago, but they finally got the final eviction notice settled Friday," Schanzmeyer said.

Eight apartments were damaged or destroyed.

Several families lost everything.

"Our maintenance man kicked our door in because we live right next to the vacant apartment, woke us up. By the time I got to my dining room, there was flames already coming through," resident Jessica Thornell said. "I lost everything. I have nothing. I have no shoes, nothing."

Three of Thornell's pets, a cat and her two kittens, died in the fire.

"You can't replace them," she said. "You can have other animals, but you can't replace those."

"It's kind of a stupid thing to do, to light some place vacant on fire and risk lives," Schanzmeyer said.

One firefighter was taken to Memorial Hermann-Memorial City Hospital with a knee injury.

No other injuries were reported.

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