ST. PETERSBURG — Katarzyna Newby had a feeling that she shouldn't leave home Tuesday.
Then she heard neighbors in her apartment complex arguing. One threatened to burn the place down. Newby called 911.
Soon, flames and smoke were rising out of an upstairs unit in the Sunrise Apartments near 66th Street N and 38th Avenue. St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue investigators say a resident started the fire that injured only him, flash burning his facial hair.
"Something said 'stay,' " said Newby, 29, who rescued her two cats from her apartment as it filled with smoke. "Divine intervention — I never believed in it before."
The incident began about 3:40 p.m. with a domestic dispute between the father and son who live in Apartment 104 at 3490 66th St. N, said fire spokesman Lt. Rick Feinberg. Police later arrested Brian Altemos, 36, on a charge of first-degree arson of an occupied dwelling.
Investigators believe he poured fire accelerant in his two-bedroom apartment and set it on fire while his father, Alan Altemos, 60, was at a bank.
When firefighters arrived, smoke and flames poured out of the windows of the two-story yellow building. One bedroom and the hallway were black with soot.
They found an uncooperative Brian Altemos several blocks away. After Bayfront Medical Center released him, he was arrested, Feinberg said.
Barbara Lyons, 48, another neighbor, said the elder Altemos had lived in the complex for several years. She said he kept their apartment immaculate.
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Brian Altemos has been in prison for drug possession and sexual acts involving a minor.