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MADISON, Wis. – Madison’s Fire Department ruled a fire that destroyed an East Side apartment complex as arson.
The investigators say the suspect was a tenant, but they also called two other residents heroes for saving the 15 people who lived at Muirfield Ridge off Loomis Circle.
The fire started around 7:30 p.m. on May 14 inside a unit on the bottom level. It reignited four hours later and destroyed eight apartments.
Cody Labagnara and his family lost nearly everything, but Madison Fire Department Division Chief Mike Dibble said Labagnara’s neighbor saved his life.
“We finally got out and it was smoking and we saw smoke coming from the lights and the ceiling was cracking,” said Labagnara.
“They actually saved people’s lives by first getting themselves out safely and then alerting all the other residents,” said Chief Dibble. “They really did a fantastic job of alerting the people.”
The hero happened to be a firefighter’s fiancé who lived at the complex with him. She noticed the smoke pouring from the windows below her.
“When she went down to check it out, she knew it was way more than grilling,” said Dibble, who knew the fire grew too quickly and said evidence suggests it was intentionally set.
“That’s just wrong,” said Labagnara. “You just destroyed nine families in a matter of hours.”
The firefighter’s fiancé gave investigators a description of the suspect and police officers detained the tenant that night, while the fireman fought the flames.
The District Attorney is reviewing the case and whether to file charges. Ishmael Ozanne said he hasn’t made a charging decision yet, but that it could come as early as Friday.
 Muirfield Ridge is rebuilding the apartments, but a spokesperson didn’t know when tenants could rent them again.
East side apartment fire ruled arson, officials said

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