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Police Arrest Suspect In Columbia Arson

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — A domestic violence incident ends in flames in Howard County. Now the man accused of setting that fire is behind bars.

Rochelle Ritchie has more on what happened, and photos of the damage.

Howard County Police say the man and his girlfriend got into a fight that nearly turned deadly.

Several families are without a home after Howard County Police say Alejandro Rodriguez, 25, set an apartment on fire.

The smoke could be seen billowing out of the windows of building 5355. The neighbors looked on in fear.

“I looked out my bathroom window and I saw the flames and said ‘Wow, this is actually happening,'” a neighbor said.

Police were called to the apartment complex around 9:30 p.m. Friday. They arrived to find a woman with several injuries in the parking lot.

When police arrived on the scene, several of the units were engulfed in flames and a man was seen yelling obscenities out the window.

Rodriguez escaped through a window in the back of the building.

After being on the run nearly 24 hours he is now in police custody, charged with first and second-degree assault and malicious burning.

Those driving by were shocked at the damage and the homes lost.

“They didn’t deserve that,” a driver said.

Cleanup is now underway at the site of the fire, which displaced 17 people.

“What are they going to do because of this young man being ridiculous?” a man said.

The Red Cross is now assisting those who lost their homes.

Rodriguez is now in the Howard County jail. Officers say he was taken into custody without incident.

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