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South Austin Fire Believed To Be Work Of Arsonist

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Lawler Avenue Fire

Arson is believed to be to blame for a fire overnight at 1111 N. Lawler Ave. on the city’s West Side. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Investigators say an early-morning fire in a South Austin neighborhood apartment building might have been the work of an arsonist.

Firefighters were called to a three-story building at 1111 N. Lawler Ave. around 1 a.m. Wednesday. The fire was out shortly afterward, but it burned out most of the second floor.

Everyone inside escaped safely.

A Fire Department investigator on the scene said early Wednesday that the fire looked like an intentional act, and is linked to a domestic dispute.

Sandra Price, 42, lives on the third floor and was home with her five children, her 1-year-old grandchild and her husband when the fire started. She said she heard people screaming right before she saw the orange flames. None of her children, who range in age from 13 to 26, were hurt.

Price said that she helped a woman move out of the unit where the blaze started earlier Tuesday, and saw her arguing with a boyfriend she had just broken up with.

Price said she believes the argument was related to the blaze, and said she saw the same man running away from the building right after the fire started.

Price, who was standing outside with her children and grandchild, said she was angry to have been put in danger. They escaped by using a back exit.

Some of the building’s residents are likely to be displaced, Curtis said. It was not immediately known how many people lived in the building.

Emergency crews received preliminary reports that people may have jumped from the building to escape the flames, but later found no one had jumped, Curtis said. No injuries were reported.

The fire investigator said, “We’re working on it,” when asked if there was anyone in custody.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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