A group of South Daytona residents are lucky to be alive after an arsonist lit part of their apartment complex on fire, while residents were home.
News 13 spoke with the woman the arsonist was talking to as he was dousing the complex with gasoline.
Kathy Bailey’s charred front door is being replaced after it was set on fire Saturday morning at the Spanish Villa apartment complex in South Daytona.
But she and her granddaughter are lucky to be alive after police say Arthur Avery did not find who he was looking for, a man by the name of Ted; a man Bailey says she’s never heard of, which was a response Avery did not like.
“And he just started splashing the gasoline on it. And I said my granddaughter’s in there. And he said you better get her. So I ran in and my other girlfriend who came in from out of town said there’s a child in there. He said I don’t give a damn,” said Bailey.
A grandmother’s instinct kicked in and she ran inside for her granddaughter.
“Grabbed her and went out the back door. Did you get any gasoline on you? Yeah, I did, I was just praying he didn’t light that fire before I could get out of there,” added Kathy Bailey.
The fire burned two front doors, and a mattress, before working its way up higher.
Residents in this apartment complex tell me the flames came all the way to the second floor. One homeowner even saw those flames through the peep hole right here on the second floor.
“It looked like hell just exploded,” said resident Lonna Sampson.
Lonna Sampson is thankful South Daytona firefighters arrived so quickly to put the fire out because her son had no way out the back door of the second story apartment.
“Someone could have burned us all, all of us to death,” added Sampson.
Avery himself is being treated for burns. Witnesses told police then when Avery knelt down to light the fire, he caught fire himself.
Police say Avery rolled on the ground, an act which may have put that fire out, but led to his arrest because he dropped a set of keys and his wallet.
Detectives say Avery was driven by friends to a hospital in St, John’s county but was transferred to Shand’s hospital where he is being treated for his burns.
Meanwhile, Bailey is glad Avery was arrested, but too nervous to return to her apartment.
“I was Petrified. [Probably] the worst thing could ever happen to me cause I’m afraid of fire,” said Bailey.