Apartment Fire Considered ‘Suspicious’

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CLEVELAND -- A multi-use building with apartments and businesses was destroyed in a fire that investigators are labeling "suspicious."

Nine families are looking for new places to live and at least one store owner lost his business in the fire Friday night.

Tenants and business owners spent Saturday trying to see what, if anything, could be saved from the Shaker Square Plaza building at 13018 Buckeye Road. Investigators believe the fire started somewhere between the first and second floor in an unoccupied area, but quickly spread. At one point, flames were shooting out of the roof.

Firefighters said everyone got out safely.

"Everything is gone, everything," resident Yolanda Gray said.

Gray was at work when the fire started. Not only did she lose her belongings, but she also lost her pet in the fire.

"I had a little ferret. So, she's dead. Just moving on, that's all I can do. Can't do nothing else but move on," said Gray.

Ismaila Sy, owner of IS Fashions, is the person who first learned of the fire and called 911. He doesn't think he can salvage anything in his store.

"I can't get nothing, everything gone," said Sy. "Everything melted up. I'm not able to save nothing, one dime of nothing."

Waly Sene, who lives in the building, thinks he knows how the fire started. He was grilling outside the building on Friday and noticed the lighter fluid he was using was gone.

"The lighter fluid I have been using, I leave out for my barbecue. Someone come and steal it from me," he said.

Gray said she doesn't know why anyone would want to set fire to the building.

"But, they did and now a lot of us have lost our stuff," she added.

Investigators have not determined the cause of the first as arson, but Crimestoppers arson signs are posted outside the building, seeking information on how the fire started. The fire did an estimated $300,000 in damage.

Two firefighters were hurt when part of the ceiling collapsed on them. They were taken to the hospital and treated and released.

Click here for continuing coverage on this story.