Five families were routed from their sleep early today when a fire of suspicious origin broke out in a ground-level dwelling in the Sentinel Courts Apartments in the 4300 block of Seminole Ave. near Edmondson Village.
No injuries were reported.
Battalion Chief Joseph Dillon said some type of incendiary device was thrown into the front window of an apartment at 4310 Seminole Ave. about 3:45 a.m., causing extensive damage to the living room.
Chief Dillon said he and a fire investigator were trying to determine what type of device was used, but they were sure it was not a gasoline bottle Molotov cocktail.
No one was at home in the attacked apartment, investigators said. An unidentified female occupant of the apartment was away at work and her infant son was being cared for by a relative in another location, said Chief Dillon.
Derek Early said he was awakened about 3:30 a.m. by the sound of glass breaking, looked out his front window and saw a man walking down the front pavement.
"Fifteen minutes later," Mr. Early said, "I smelled smoke and saw flames coming from the apartment below me." He then called the fire department.
Officer William Baumer of the Southwestern District said he saw flames coming from the living room window when he pulled up in front of the apartment in response to a report of a fire.
"I banged on as many doors as I could," said Officer Baumer.
In all, nearly a dozen occupants got out safely as a result of the officer's action.
Sheila Dingle, 32, and her son, Damon Jones, 14, were among the occupants who escaped.
Mrs. Dingle said she woke up hearing someone ringing doorbells and yelling fire.
"I got my son out of bed and we both ran out to the front street just as the fire engines were arriving," she said.