Granger apartment fire ruled as arson

GRANGER, Ind. - Police have a suspect in custody after a fire at Summer Place Apartments in Granger that displaced 16 families was ruled as arson. Neighbors had said when the fire happened in January that they were shocked to even see emergency crews in the apartment complex. Now with the fire being ruled as arson, they said they are stunned.

"Well, first, it's tragic that someone would do that and sad for the people surrounding because they're just living here like I am," John White, who lives in the building next to the one that caught fire, said. "So, they're of no fault, but now, they've lost a bunch of things. So, yeah, it's a tragic situation."

White said he slept through the night when the fire actually happened on January 10, but he woke up to see emergency crews cleaning up. He said the community found that surprising. When investigators revealed they believed the fire to be intentional, the community rallied.

A lot of the community have donated clothes and different kinds of things to kind of help out those who have been displaced," White said. "That's good, but at the same time, yeah, tragic."

Flaherty and Collins Properties owns Summer Place Apartments. It released a statement on Wednesday that said it, too, was helping those displaced families.

“It's a very unfortunate situation where 16 families have been displaced, but we’ve worked with other Flaherty & Collins Properties communities around the area to find those affected by the fire temporary housing," the statement said. "While it is company policy not to comment on an ongoing investigation, we have worked closely with Fire and Police officials and will continue to do so as the legal process moves forward. We cannot thank the Mishawaka Fire and Police teams enough for their hard work and tremendous effort during this investigation. We are anxious to start the rebuild process as well in the very near future.”

Belinda Rathert said she's lived at Summer Place Apartments for almost a year. She said she's stunned someone would intentionally set a fire in the apartment complex.

"I was shocked that something like that would happen here because you can come out in the middle of the night or at all times of the day and feel completely safe," Rathert said. "I've never heard any fighting. I've never heard anybody fighting or yelling at each other."

Rathert said she knows some of the people who were displaced by the fire. She spoke with them as they were moving out and said the person responsible for setting this fire has crushed their spirits.

"They did a lot of damage here, not only in the fire with the buildings and the taking away of property and spirit," Rathert said. "He ruined a lot of people's spirit and energy."

Even with this arson fire in their apartment complex, both White and Rathert said their community is second to none.

"I don't like to live in fear of anything, really," White said. "COVID happened, and there's a lot of things that can really upend your life. So, it hasn't really changed. I'm not planning on moving out."

"I hope that people don't look at this fire and go 'Oh, I don't want to live there,'" Rathert said. "You do want to live here. It's just amazing. I can't say it enough that it's a very safe community to live in."

Quinton Ferguson has been charged with one felony count of arson and one felony count of intimidation. If he is convicted on both, he could face up to 14 and a half years in prison. Investigators said Ferguson has only been charged so far and that every suspect is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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