Police: KCK fire that killed 2 was arson - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Man charged with murder, arson after fire kills woman, toddler

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Nima Shaffe/KCTV Nima Shaffe/KCTV
Curtis Horn Curtis Horn
Nima Shaffe/KCTV Nima Shaffe/KCTV
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Wyandotte County prosecutors have charged Curtis Horn with two counts of first-degree murder and arson in connection with a fatal fire.

Altogether, Horn faces 19 felony charges. The 37-year-old man is accused of starting a fire at an apartment that killed a woman and a young girl she was babysitting.

A judge set bond at $1 million.

Police said Horn said he set the fire early Saturday at the Legend Oaks Apartment after getting into a fight with his girlfriend, Brandi Johnson.

The fire killed the 34-year-old woman and 2-year-old Amiyah McClenton. Residents say other tenants escaped after some residents ran through hallways pounding on doors to alert people to the fire.

Johnson, who was taking care of the child, was pronounced dead at the scene. Amiyah was rescued from the building, but authorities said she died a short time later at a hospital.

Amiyah's family said Johnson was dating Horn. An apparent argument led to the suspect's unthinkable actions, police and family members said.

A family member of the suspect coaxed Horn into turning himself in over the weekend. Authorities thanked Horn's family for their cooperation and assistance.

Neighbors said they are glad an arrest was made, but angry that an innocent child was killed.

Fifteen of the charges against Horn were for child endangerment. Each count is for the children who were in the building when the fire broke out.

Norma Bowren lives right next door to the building that burned. She said her two baby granddaughters were home when the fire broke out, and it terrifies her to think it could've been them.

"It's heartbreaking," Bowren said. "You don't know whose life you're affecting. You're messing with other people's lives."

The flames lit up the morning sky just before 6 a.m. near North 76th Drive and Garfield Court.  The popping of the flames awoke residents and onlookers, as dozens of firefighters swarmed the apartment complex.

"I woke up to my neighbors banging on my door talking about the apartment's on fire, apartment's on fire," said Tamara Clark, who helped her neighbors escape. "We got the kids up, we got all the kids in the cars trying to keep them warm. We don't know what happened. They said it started in No. 12."

As firefighters worked to put the fire out, neighbors looked on. Some who were living a safe distance away watched from their balconies.

Darime Figueroa lives on the top floor just feet from where the fire started. Her 14-year-old son woke her up.

"He turned on all the lights and he said like, ‘mom, mom, we got to get out, there's a fire' and I was like, ‘what do you mean there's a fire' and all of the sudden all the fire alarms started going off like crazy," Figueroa said.

She, her family and many others stood helplessly by as firefighters went from apartment to apartment searching for and putting out hotspots.

"I got four kids. I got a 1 1/2, a 4 and a 7 and him at 14. All we did, we just grabbed one of each other, we just grabbed one of the kids and we ran out," Figueroa said. "By the time we got out, we were like in the middle section that's when the flames started coming out like crazy."

All she and her family could do was watch, knowing it could have been much worse.

"Me and my husband and my kids are doing OK. We're like more than OK, but we see this and we're like, ‘what are we going to do now. Where are we going to?'" she said.

Figueroa is not alone.

More than two dozen people were displaced, and the Red Cross is helping those put out of their homes.

KCTV5's Amy Anderson, Abby Kerner and DeAnn Smith contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.

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