SUFFOLK, Va. - Suffolk Fire & Rescue officials are investigating a "suspicious" fire that displaced nine people from their Downtown Suffolk apartments early Sunday morning.
According to the department, the call for the fire came in at 3 a.m., and crews responded to the building, located in the 300 block of Wellons Street, four minutes later.
First arriving crews found heavy black smoke showing from the building's front door and flames visible from the rear of the structure. Crews entered the building and found heavy fire on the first floor of the two-story building, with fire venting from the rear.
The residents, who had to be evacuated on the second floor of the building by fire crews, were not injured. All nine people who were displaced are being assisted by the Red Cross.
The fire was called under control at 3:38 a.m. Just before then, apartment-building owner Dominick Epps arrived on the scene.
"It’s not one of those calls you want to get at 3 o’clock in the morning, but it happens," Epps said. "It’s not the end of the story, it’s part of life."
What remains are burn marks over the front door as well as over the window on the side of the home. Epps added that he is thankful no one was hurt.
"It doesn’t feel good, but as long as everybody got out safe," Epps said. "They went through all the units, knocked on the doors to make sure everybody got out safely."
According to the department, the fire was ruled suspicious and is now under investigation by the Fire Marshal's Office and the Suffolk Police Department. Officials say a "person of interest" is being interviewed.
Regardless, Epps said he will rebuild and is not letting this fire hold him back.
"Things happen, response is key," Epps said. "How you respond to the situation is more important than the situation itself."
This is a developing story.