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Man charged with arson after a fire at his mother's senior apartment complex

Eighteen people were displaced by the fire, and two were hospitalized. The Fire Marshal said Michael Baine, 29, was arrested and charged after an investigation.

NORFOLK, Va. — A Norfolk man is facing arson charges after investigators say he set his mother's apartment building on fire.

A fire at the Cromwell House Apartment complex Tuesday afternoon left two people hospitalized for possible smoke inhalation, and 18 people displaced.

The apartment complex in the Suburban Acres area of the city is specially designated for tenants who are 55 and older. 

Tuesday night, the Norfolk Fire Marshal said 29-year-old Michael Baine had been arrested and charged with "arson to an occupied dwelling" in the case. 

Resident Dorothy Merricks says she lives just down the hallway from Baine's mother's unit.

“I saw all the firetrucks and everything else. It was like a movie -- to me, it was, and it was scary," she said. "My unit is like two doors from where it all happened."

Merricks said he didn't live with his mother, but visited her often.

"I wasn’t shocked that it was him," Merricks said. "But I had seen him several times in the building and he was nice to me, he was nice to my dog...But you never know how people are."

Another neighbor said Baine's mother had only lived in the apartment for a few months.

The fire was first called in at 12:43 p.m. Tuesday. When responders got to the scene, they could see flames on the second floor.  Firefighters got the fire under control about an hour later, at 1:48 p.m.

A spokesperson from Norfolk Fire-Rescue said teams helped several trapped people get out of the apartment complex.

"Multiple residents were assisted by NFR crews to the exterior, but all refused treatment and transport," spokesperson Stephanie Ramsey wrote.

Ramsey said the property had sprinklers and suffered both fire and water damage because of the blaze.

Investigators said Baine could face further charges.

Credit: Norfolk Sheriff's Office
Michael Baine