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Man charged with arson, attempted murder in Lexington apartment fire

Erin Duncan wept as she thought about how much worse the fire at her apartment complex could have been.

Two injuries were reported, 15 apartments were destroyed and 64 residents were displaced, including Duncan's nephew, who turns 2 next week. Duncan is thankful that no one died in the two-alarm blaze that investigators say was intentionally set around 3 a.m. Thursday after an argument in one of the units at Parkway Apartments, a three-story complex on Centre Parkway near Tates Creek Elementary School.

Brandon Dockery, 21, of Lexington turned himself in to police Thursday afternoon — hours after investigators informed the media that they wanted to question him about the fire. Dockery heard his name on the news, according to a news release from the Lexington fire department.

He is charged with one count of first-degree arson, four counts of attempted murder and 20 counts of wanton endangerment.

Battalion Chief Marshall Griggs said the blaze was set after an argument between Dockery and four others in one of the apartments. Dockery did not live in the apartment complex.

Witnesses say they were awakened by the argument and heard someone say they were going to burn the place down.

"This was all one person's payback," Duncan said. "This was more than just a fire. Somebody tried to kill everybody in the complex."

By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had engulfed the center units of the building.

"From blocks away you could see it before we even got on scene," Griggs said. "It really got going quick."

Fire investigators determined gasoline had been used as an accelerant. They arrived at the scene at 3:15 a.m.

One woman was taken to the hospital with fractures after jumping off a third-floor balcony to escape the fire. Another person was treated at the scene for an ankle injury, Griggs said.

Firefighters were able to rescue eight animals, including cats, dogs, guinea pigs and a bird, Griggs said. Several pets were missing Thursday afternoon. And one cat died.

Residents drifted in and out of the complex, carrying whatever possessions they could salvage in smoke-stained luggage and trash bags. But city inspectors eventually condemned the building, preventing some residents from retrieving keepsakes.

Eric Duncan, Erin Duncan's brother, said he lost several sonograms of his son, Eric Jr., because of water damage from firefighters' hoses. Eric Duncan also was upset because he couldn't go back to retrieve food or presents for his son's birthday party next week.

The Duncans said they would relocate to a different apartment building but probably would have to spend the night in a temporary Red Cross shelter in the gymnasium of Tates Creek Elementary.

Out of the 64 displaced residents, 11 adults and two children would be using the shelter overnight, said Dwayne Edwards, spokesman for the Red Cross.

"It looks like a lot of the folks have found places to go," he said.

Edwards said family members and neighbors were taking in residents. The Salvation Army and the Tates Creek Elementary cafeteria provided food to those who stayed. LexTran provided transportation to the shelter.

Resident Josh Caicedo, who had stayed at his brother's house the night of the fire, returned home at 9:30 a.m. to find he had no possessions left to salvage. His apartment was in the center of the building, an area between two fire walls that was hit hardest by the fire.

"It's surreal to me. I have nothing," he said.

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