Tempe police investigating after vacant apartment catches fire Saturday morning

TEMPE,AZ - A vacant two-story apartment caught fire early Saturday morning near University Drive and Rural Road in Tempe

Officials with the Tempe Police Department said the first started on the first floor of the unit and burned up to the second floor.

Fire officials were able to put out the fire in 10 minutes after it started just before 3 a.m., officials said.

Marc Lomeli lives in the complex and saw the fire from his apartment 40 feet away. He called 911 and then proceeded to knock on the doors of neighbors to get them out of harm’s way.

"Some guys weren't responding to knocks on the door,” Lomei says. “We broke a couple of windows, just so they can hear something. I'm pretty sure everyone was dead asleep because it was 3 in the morning.” 

Tempe firefighters said they did not hear a smoke detector.

Investigators are now calling the fire suspicious and have turned the investigation over to the Tempe Police Department.

Officials did not release any further details about what made them think the fire was suspicious, but said the previous occupants moved out just 24 hours prior.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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