Homeless man admits role in apartment fire

A remorseful homeless man told authorities he was responsible for a vacant-apartment blaze that started in a bathtub and displaced 12 people early Sunday morning, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue said.

Firefighters responded about 1:30 a.m. to reports of flames coming from the window of a vacant apartment at 1313 N. 22nd St., near East Owens and North Eastern avenues, fire department spokesman Tim Szymanski wrote in a release early Sunday morning.

The living room of the apartment, where the fire appeared to have started, was gutted and there was heavy heat and smoke damage throughout the rest of the unit. The other units in the one-story building were also damaged, Szymanski said.

Following the blaze, Las Vegas police were called to a nearby convenience store where a man and his girlfriend were arguing, a press release said. The argument was due to the man wanting “to take responsibility for what he had done.”

The man, according to the release, admitted to have entered the apartment through a window and started a small fire in a bathtub. When the fire spread out of control, he left the apartment, alerted neighbors of the blaze and helped some evacuate. He became scared when authorities arrived and fled the scene.

The man was not charged with arson, because the fire was deemed accidental, Szymanski said, and police did not charge the man with trespassing because he was not trespassing when he spoke to officers. However, he signed a statement and made his information available to the property owner who would be able to file a civil suit.

No injuries were reported, Szymanski said, but smoke damage forced the evacuation of the apartment next to the unit where the fire started, displacing three adults and nine children who were living there. Those 12 people are being assisted by the American Red Cross, Szymanski said.

The blaze caused an estimated $40,000 in damage, Szymanski said.

Review-Journal writer Ricardo Torres contributed to this story.

Contact Kimber Laux at klaux@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Find her on Twitter: @lauxkimber.

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