Police: Man arrested for lighting apartment fire with cigarette in mail room

- A man has been arrested after an early-morning fire at an apartment complex in Southfield Monday morning.

Residents of Regal Towers on Franklin Road near the Lodge Freeway were evacuated around 5 a.m. Authorities have determined the fire started in the mail room of the building.

An arson dog made the rounds, and investigators believe the fire was set intentionally by the 32-year-old man, who is from Southfield. It's not known yet if he lived in the building or why investigators believe he set the fire. Sources tell us the fire was started with a lit cigarette.

A handful of people were treated for smoke inhalation. At least one other person was injured but authorities haven't given details about that.

Salvation Army is on hand to help the tenants on the first floor whose homes were damaged by smoke.

"There were no lights in the corridor, there was smoke coming into the house. We were confused, and the that's when we realized that there was a fire accident," said tenant Anirudh Mamidipaka.

Once he realized it was more than just a drill, he immediately ran to wake up his roommate.

"We broke the glass and that saved our lives," said Prajesh Chalasani.

The two of them had to remove the back window of the first-floor apartment to get out.

Floors two through nine were let back in around 9 a.m. For those on the first floor, dozens may have to wait to return to their homes due to smoke damage.

"A lot of people just self-evacuated. Most of them were out when we got here," said Captain Trent Rettschlag of the Southfield Fire Department.  "There were no apartments that the fire got into. The doors held the smoke out of the apartments, so we've been really fortunate."

He added the fire was out relatively quickly.

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