Some still missing after fire destroys apartment building

Some still missing after fire destroys Detroit apartment building, arson suspected

Posted: Updated:
SkyFOX over the scene of a large apartment fire on Detroit's west side. SkyFOX over the scene of a large apartment fire on Detroit's west side.
SkyFOX over the scene of a large apartment fire on Detroit's west side. SkyFOX over the scene of a large apartment fire on Detroit's west side.
SkyFOX over the scene of a large apartment fire on Detroit's west side. SkyFOX over the scene of a large apartment fire on Detroit's west side.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Authorities have called off the search for those still unaccounted for after a massive fire destroyed an apartment complex in Detroit.

They say the area has been searched and no one was found in the rubble and the area is not safe to go back inside. If you still have a loved one unaccounted for contact the FOX 2 Newsroom at (248) 552-5103.

The fire gutted the Jason Manor Apartment building early Wednesday morning. The blaze began shortly after a young woman was allegedly sexually assaulted by four men. Authorities are working to determine if the two are connected.

"I [saw] a couple of females, two females, and maybe like twelve guys and they were smoking. ... I heard that she was sexually assaulted and, like I said, it wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary because it's a lot of bad drug users over there," says Latrice Arnold.

Police have given a description of one of the four suspects. They say he is a black male with dreadlocks, 5 feet 4 inches tall with a light complexion and is clean-shaven. At this time they do not have descriptions of the other three suspects.

By Wednesday afternoon an excavator was brought in to pull down the remaining walls of the apartment building so investigators could safely search for those who are still unaccounted for, and to search for the source of the fire. Arson is suspected at this time.

"We just want to make sure we don't find anyone who was possibly trapped inside during the fire, so we are looking for bodies as well as the cause and origin of this fire," says Fire Chief Charles Simms.

He tells FOX 2's Amy Lange 31 of the 42 apartments were occupied and not everyone has been accounted for, but many were saved.

"If the firefighters didn't respond the way they did and put their own lives on the line, we would have had a lot of fatalities this morning," he says.

Many also had to jump from windows on the second and third floors.

ALSO SEE: Residents jump to safety as fire destroys Detroit apartment building

Now the search is on for the people responsible for so much destruction.

"We do have persons of interest in mind and we do have possible motives, so we're going off that so far but, like I said, our investigation has really just begun," says Simms.

ALSO SEE: How to help the victims of the massive Detroit apartment fire

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