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Arrest made in Arlington apartment arson

58 residents displaced by fire that damaged 22 units

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Later this morning, the man accused of destroying several families' homes in a fire will be in court. 

State investigators have determined that Wednesday morning's fire that destroyed two units and damaged 22 others at the Avesta Apartments on Townsend Boulevard was set by a man who had just been in a fight with his girlfriend.

Sandy Elmore, 35, was arrested Thursday and charged with four counts of arson to an occupied dwelling. The state fire marshal's office said Elmore made a threat to burn his girlfriend's apartment down when he left, then sent her text messages saying he set the fire.

Arson investigators determined the fire started in the bedroom of the woman's second-floor apartment -- one of the two destroyed.

The girlfriend called police, who had her set up a meeting with Elmore, where he was arrested just before 5 p.m. He was booked into the Duval County jail on $1 million bond.

News4Jax learned that Elmore has a history of felony arrests.

There were no injuries to residents or firefighters, but 58 people were displaced and the fire caused an estimated $750,000 damage. 

Residents who were displaced by the fire spoke out against the resident who committed the act Thursday night.

News4Jax went to the hotel where some of the neighbors were staying. According to the apartment management, they have five days and are waiting to turn on the power.

Henry Brinson Jr. had to stay in a hotel room because his apartment was one of the 22 units damaged in the fire. Brinson witnessed Elmore threatening his girlfriend before the arson and isn't shocked at all because he said the couple argued constantly.

"He told her if he couldn't stay there she couldn't stay there." Brinson said.

That's just one of several threats Brinson and other neighbors in the Arlington apartment complex said Elmore made toward his girlfriend. Brinson said he's glad Elmore is getting punished for the crime he committed.

"A lot of people lost their belongings. And luckily nobody got hurt. He deserves it. He got just what he deserves," he said.

Kelsey Parker who is also a resident of the apartment complex was outraged.

"He needs to look at it, if it was his family, if somebody did that, how would he feel? And my thing is if you love a person you shouldn't just try to do that. Your anger shouldn't make you get that far as burning a place down," she said.