The Macon-Bibb County Fire Department is investigating to determine if arson is the cause of Monday night's fire in an unit on the eighth floor of the Dempsey Apartments downtown.
"Right now, we're calling it highly, highly suspicious," fire Lt. Ben Gleaton, an arson investigator, said Tuesday. "We've been working on it since early this morning."
The fire was called in about 6:40 p.m. Monday at the Cherry Street building that's home to nearly 200 people who receive government housing support. Though the flames were isolated to one apartment, residents on the eighth and ninth floors were evacuated and unable to re-enter the building until after midnight, Gleaton said.
Two separate fires started in the apartment -- in a closet and on a mattress, according to Gleaton's findings that were in an incident report from the Bibb County Sheriff's Office.
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The 65-year-old man living in the apartment told deputies he hadn't been there since about 3 p.m. Saturday because he'd been staying with his fiancee on the ninth floor, according to the report.
The man believes another woman who is interested in him is the one making all the trouble, the report said, noting that the man said he has turned the woman down for sex several times.
The property manager shared with deputies video surveillance that shows a woman leaving the man's apartment about the time of the fire, according to the report. The manager also provided the building's sign-in log, which shows the same woman signed in to visit the man's apartment about 5:15 p.m.
The fire remains under investigation, Gleaton said.
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4334 or follow her on Twitter @Lauraecor.