METAIRIE, La. - Three people are dead and nearly a dozen people may be homeless following an early morning apartment fire in Metairie.
The fire started shortly before 3 am, in the 2300 block of Harvard Avenue. Investigators suspect arson.
People in the apartment complex say the fire made some who were recently homeless, homeless once again. A man named Arthur, saved his life, by jumping out of the second story apartment he rented. He broke his leg and was taken to the hospital, but three other adults inside died.
Sources tell us that Arthur is a good Samaritan. He could never turn the homeless away and quite frequently he would take them in to live with him. The problem is he's the only person on the lease in a one-bedroom apartment and that was against the rules. Several times he had been asked nicely not to house other people.
"He used to let 'em come sleep in his house 'cause he felt sorry for 'em. And they were screaming while they were burning," said his neighbor Mary Ponson, who also lost her belongings in the fire.
Ponson says all the neighbors in the building looked out for each other. Many are on assistance from the government or non-profits that help the homeless. She says she suffered brain damage years ago from a beating with a baseball bat. This morning she escaped with her cockatoos Macy and Eli.
The Jefferson Parish Fire Department says the apartments are a crime scene, suspected arson, because a fire accelerant was detected by canines. One man who did not want to be identified says he had suspicions about a young man who came to the complex.
"Arthur, the one that rents the place, called the police and they come here and took 'em to jail. Friday I seen him walking through here scream, ranting and raving. He's mentally ill. He's the one that broke the windows out here before and beat up the man upstairs with a baseball bat," said the man.
Now deputies say they are looking at all leads.
In the meantime, a family, just moving in, must start over.
"I mean, we don't have anything. The house is like completely demolished, like we don't really have anything," said Lakeisha Henderson, 20.
The Red Cross will give the victims vouchers for three nights in a hotel.
After that, we're told, the residents will be relocated to other apartments in the complex.