Tenn. Firefighter Burned in Arson Blaze



Police have arrested a man after a fire displaced 20 families at a Hermitage apartment complex late Monday night.

The first blaze sparked at about 9 p.m. at the Arbours of Hermitage apartment building off Old Hickory Boulevard.

Police arrested Robert Sibert, 46, and charged him with aggravated arson in the case.

Officials said Sibert set a mattress on fire with a lighter, starting the blaze. The fire spread quickly as crews arrived, completely destroying 10 of the 20 units in the building.

"We definitely know 10 of those apartments are terribly damaged," said Metro Fire Department spokesman Joaquin Toon at the scene. "The other 10 have sustained extensive water and smoke damage."

Resident Michael Watkins tried to save Sibert.

"He just kept going back inside, and I don't know why, I mean, and so I went and I kept telling him, 'Come on, man, you're gonna die. You're gonna die,'" said Watkins. "And he kept going back in, so I'd go back after him. And then the third time I went and I drug him over here, and I said, 'Sit down. You're not moving.'"

All of the residents were able to get out of the units before crews arrived, but one of them had to be taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center to be treated for smoke inhalation.

A firefighter, Capt. William Soffiantino, was also injured in the blaze.

"One of our firefighters suffered smoke inhalation and burns to his face and his neck; he was transported to Vanderbilt for evaluation," said Toon.

The Nashville Red Cross was called to the scene and worked through the night to provide assistance to the displaced residents.

Nearly six hours after the initial blaze, crews were once again called out to the Arbours of Hermitage to fight a second fire that broke out in the empty building.

According to officials, the second fire resulted from a hot spot inside a unit that had already been destroyed by the previous blaze.

Crews quickly contained the flames.

Sibert is in jail on a $150,000 bond.

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