MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Police in Orange County say a domestic dispute ended with a devastating fire that consumed a condo building in Middletown.
Authorities say a man set the fire after assaulting his girlfriend.READ MORE: Primary Election Day Guide For Voters In New York
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reports, imagine the pain of losing everything you own in a fire allegedly started by an angry and vengeful man.
“I saved my dog but I couldn’t save my cat. I lost everything. Everything,” said Maryann Vallejo.
Vallejo was in the thick of things during Monday night’s fire at Buttonwood Hills condos. It started when her neighbor was attacked during a domestic dispute, and came running to Vallejo’s unit.
“She had blood everywhere. She was like, ‘Get my kids, get my kids.’ So we got the kids, everybody came in, and before you knew it I heard fire,” she said.
A fire that quickly spread to Vallejo’s unit.
Neighbors with a ladder rescued the adults and three children from her balcony.
Investigators say a 39-year-old Larry Hickmon started the fire after assaulting his girlfriend. That woman’s family released a picture on a GoFundMe page showing her injury.READ MORE: NYC Mayoral Candidates Make Last-Minute Push For Votes Ahead Of Primary Day
Vallejo says Hickmon nonchalantly left the burning unit and paused outside the door.
“He did like this, and leaned on it, and watched it burn,” Vallejo said. “I can’t even explain his face. It was like nothing.”
Middletown Police say the first cops on the scene saw a woman with a bloody face. She pointed at the suspect, who took off running into the woods. Middletown officer Kelly Conklin gave chase and took him into custody.
Residents say the willful setting of a fire is incredibly troubling.
“I can’t believe someone would put everyone at risk like that. Not even thinking about anybody else,” said resident Erica Lebow.
“You’re putting everyone else in danger. Their kids, their families, their pets,” said Melisa Mueller.
The city of Middletown has condemned all of the building, building eight. That leaves ten families displaced by flame, smoke and water damage.
“We’re taking our lives, all that we had, throwing it in the garbage. All we worked for, throwing it in the garbage,” said Alisha Stevens.MORE NEWS: More Violence On Subways: Police Say Tourist Hit With Bottle, Man Slashed In Separate Attacks