UPDATE 4/3/12 @ 5:30 p.m.
CHESAPEAKE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A fire outside an apartment building led investigators to discover a much greater problem inside.
The fire happened about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday at an apartment building in Chesapeake.
It didn't take long for the state fire marshal's office to rule it as arson.
They say furniture was placed up against the building and set on fire. The flames quickly spread to the electric meter box -- causing power to go out in the building.
Eighteen of the 24 apartments were occupied at the time, but now those families are staying with relatives or in hotel rooms.
As investigators searched inside, they found safety issues in just about every apartment.
The apartments did have smoke detectors, but state fire marshals say only one was working and many of them weren't wired correctly.
WSAZ.com spoke with the building's owner off-camera. He says it was last inspected in 2003.
At that time it was up to code, but after seeing its condition now, he's not sure he will even reopen it.
There is a $5,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction of whoever started the fire.
The fire broke out about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday at 12600 Venable Avenue.
Firefighters managed to put out the flames quickly and it's believed that the fire caused damage to only the exterior portion of the property.
The West Virginia State Fire Marshal's office says the fire was intentionally set.
A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for any information leading to an arrest in the case.
The apartment building was evacuated and the people who live there will be forced to stay out until it can be inspected for damage.
The Red Cross has been called in to provide assistance to displaced residence.
Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.
Reports of the fire came in about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday at 12600 Venable Avenue in Chesapeake. Firefighters managed to put out the flames quickly and it's believed that the fire caused damage to only the exterior portion of the property.
However, for precautionary reasons, the apartment building next to the dumpster was evacuated and the people who live there will be forced to stay out until it can be inspected for damage. The Red Cross has been called in to provide assistance to displaced residence.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
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