Suspect in custody for arson, homicide

Minneapolis police arrested a 20-year-old man Thursday evening in connection with arson and homicide in a southeast Minneapolis apartment building fire, according to a published report. The Minneapolis man was also a resident of the building.
The blaze, which started early Thursday morning, killed a woman and injured several other people.
The man told the Star Tribune that he called 911 on Wednesday. He said he found a blanket smelling of kerosene in the third-floor hallway where the woman was found dead during firefighters’ rescue attempt.
The woman’s identity will not be released for several days, a Hennepin County Medical Examiner official said Thursday.
Residents at 301 University Ave. S.E., including many University students, awoke at about 4 a.m. to the third fire in their building in about a month. The second blaze broke out early Wednesday morning.
“The people that were trapped inside were screaming, and sirens were wailing,” said Pamela Harvey, who lives on the third floor of the building. “There was a figure of a lady holding a baby in one of the windows.”
More than 35 residents trapped on the upper floors were rescued by Minneapolis firefighters, who arrived at the scene in less than two minutes, said Minneapolis Fire Department spokesman Dick Turner.
Fire alarms sounded, but because the building is only three stories high, municipal building codes do not require sprinklers and none were installed. The building manager could not be reached for comment.
Several other residents were treated for smoke inhalation, and one firefighter’s back was injured during a rescue attempt.
About 30 firetrucks were on the scene, Turner said. Although the fire was not severe, the smoke was thick and many firefighters were needed to rescue trapped residents.
The fire department is currently investigating the cause of the fire, Turner said. Once their investigation is complete, the case will be turned over to the Minneapolis Police Department for further investigation.
Police arson and homicide investigators were already on the scene Thursday, residents said.
Fire department officials have ruled the earlier fires arsons, Turner said.
At about 4 a.m. on June 27, a fire started in a third-floor storage area, causing a great deal of smoke and water damage, residents said.
That fire broke out near Harvey’s apartment, she said.
“We could have died then,” Harvey said. Along with many other residents, they didn’t realize at first what the alarms were for.
That blaze was under control by about 4:45 a.m. without serious injuries.
The second fire, which broke out at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, was set in the basement, Minneapolis police said. It was controlled by about 3 a.m., also without injuries.
But Thursday’s fire was different.
“This time was definitely the worst,” Harvey said.
The apartment building is secured, but Harvey said a door had been propped open last night. She tried to shut it, but it wouldn’t latch properly.
The neighborhood is usually quiet, Harvey said. But there have been other problems in the building, she said. Last November someone went through the building banging on people’s doors at about 3 a.m., Harvey said.
Harvey and her husband said they are planning to move out of the building as soon as possible.