More than a dozen people were displaced by a fire Friday at Crestview Garden Apartments.

Firemen were called to 1109 Pin Oak Drive at 9:56 a.m., where fire broke out in a second floor apartment.

New Castle fire chief Tom Bulisco evacuated the building and contacted the Beaver-Lawrence Chapter of the American Red Cross to find housing for the eight children and six adults who lived in other apartments in the building.

“This fire is definitely suspicious in nature,” Bulisco said. “I will call it arson without even waiting for the fire marshal.”

State Police fire marshal Jan Wilson investigated the scene, Bulisco said, and came to the same conclusion as he did.

Bulisco said firemen found several ignition points in the vacant apartment where the fire started.

“Someone had broken into the apartment. All the lights were on,” he added.

Tia Lampkins, whose apartment is across the hall from the fire said she noticed smoke coming from under her front door.

“I opened the door and the hall was filled with black smoke,” she said.

Lampkins said her first thought was to get her children — Darian, 9, Dorian, 8, Tailynn, 2, and Nathanial, 7 months — bundled up and out of the apartment. Then she called 911 and began knocking on her neighbors’ doors to alert them of the fire, she said.

“There we were, still in our night clothes, waiting for the firemen,” said another resident. Some of the residents were wrapped in blankets as they stood on the sidewalk waiting for the all-clear sign from the firemen.

Lampkins also noted that the vacant apartment where the fire had started had been empty for four or five months.

According to Bulisco, the building is owned by Federal Property Management of Coral Springs, Fla. He estimated damages at $40,000.

Bulisco said the New Castle police are investigating. Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact the police at (724) 656-3570.

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