Man allegedly set fire to Texas apartments because of fight with girlfriend

HOUSTON, Texas (WPVI) -- A man is wanted for arson after authorities say he set a fire at a Texas apartment complex over a fight with his girlfriend.

James London, 23, has been charged in Friday's fire at Haverstock Hills in Houston that left 27 people homeless.

Investigators say after talking to witnesses and examining the scene, they determined that London started the fire after the dispute with his girlfriend.

Crime Stoppers may pay up to $5,000 for information leading to London's arrest.

Tips can be reported by calling (713) 222-TIPS (8477) or by going online.

Crews were called out around 1 a.m. to the complex at 5619 Aldine Bender near Lee Road, where neighbors woke each other up by banging on doors.

"Someone was banging and banging, telling us to get out and when we were trying to get out, there was fire, and pieces of lumber were falling from the third floor all the way down to the front of my door," resident Caroline Dalcour said.

Dalcour said neighbors also threw bricks to try to alert the people on the second and third floors to escape.

"It was up there in the sky, it was so high," Sharita Terrell said, describing the flames.

No one was injured.

"We got out right in just enough time," Ianna Mitchner said.

Mitchner, 18, was asleep when the fire started. Her boyfriend was awake and heard people yelling outside. He woke up Mitchner, she grabbed the couple's 8-month-old daughter, and the young family ran past the fire and down the metal stairs in the middle of the apartment building.

"The minute we hit the door, there were flames on the side of the door," Mitchner said. "I was just scared for my baby, scared for everybody."

Mitchner says they lost everything.

"I cried a thousand times, so at this point, I can't even cry anymore," she said.

Red Cross provided Mitchner diapers and formula. Volunteers are working with residents to provide hotel rooms for the 24 families displaced.

Ireadair Ener welcomed that help.

"The only thing I got is what I have on now," Ener said.

Ener is handicapped. She can't walk without her prosthetic leg. As the fire grew bigger and bigger, Ener waited for her daughter to arrive to help her put on her leg, so she could walk out.

"She came and rescued me and got me out of the house, because I don't think anyone knew I was handicapped in there," Ener said. "I was scared. I was scared for my life."

Families are trying to figure out how to move forward.

"I'm only 18 years old, so everything I built here, I did it on my own. It's hard to start all over when you're a young adult already," Mitchner said.

In the event of a fire, officials recommend knowing your way out and have a second route planned, if possible.

They also say to have a meeting place for your family, and check smoke detectors once a month.
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.