Imperial Apts. residents frustrated to learn fire may have been arson; and they’re now homeless

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MILWAUKEE -- Dozens of people are without a place to stay after a fire at their apartment complex -- and there is even more bad news for residents of the Imperial Apartments on Appleton and Keefe.

On Monday, October 19th, residents began the process of trying to recover what they could after the fire Sunday morning, October 18th. The Red Cross says 28 of the 30 units were occupied and at least 35 people are now displaced.

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

Some residents told FOX6 News they're even more frustrated after learning this fire may not have been an accident. Police and officials with the Milwaukee Fire Department are investigating this blaze as an arson fire -- and a 45-year-old man was questioned as a person of interest.

On Monday, just over 24 hours after the fire, residents were working to salvage anything they could.

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

"This is it -- my work uniform," Karen Howard said.

Howard's 13-year-old son managed to grab a little more -- but not much.

"He grabbed his shoes and his book bag and his cell phone," Howard said.

Howard says she's overwhelmed after the fire.

"I got in there and got confused, was walking around in circles," Howard said.

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

Howard says residents were given masks and gloves, and told they have until the end of this week to clear out what they can -- and then never return.

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

"It was a mess. The apartment is totaled. It smells. The fire department beat the walls in. It's not livable. I have to look for housing. That`s all I can do. I'm homeless," Howard said.

"This is where me and my daughter lay our heads at, and we have to find another place to live," Mike Bonds said.

Dozens of others are in the same boat, and they're trying to stay positive.

"Everybody made it out safe, and that`s a blessing," Howard said. "They said somebody deliberately set our building on fire, and that`s scary."

"Nobody`s happy. Nobody`s happy. Everybody is frustrated," Bonds said.

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

City officials say an inspector was out at the scene of the fire on Monday -- and we're told at least two units are uninhabitable.

Property managers say they're working with local organizations to help those who have been displaced financially and otherwise. They say security guards are on site to keep everyone's belongings safe as they work to remove what they can throughout the week.

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

Fire (possibly arson) at Imperial Apartments near Appleton & Keefe

This is one of 17 fires American Red Cross volunteers responded to since Friday, October 16th. If you would like to learn more about how the Red Cross is caring for those affected by these fires, and how you can help, CLICK HERE.