Someone poured gasoline in the front door at 3 Whitlock St. in Danbury Wednesday morning at about 5 a.m., and set it on fire, said Danbury Fire Marshal James Johnson.
Johnson said the early morning fire is under investigation, but it appears that at least five people were in the house with three apartments, although everyone was able to get out safely. The fire didn't seriously damage the house.
"Smoke detectors work," Johnson said. "They heard the alarms, put out the fire and got out of the house. This is first-degree arson."
Johnson said he knows there were four people in the first floor apartment, one in the second and he isn't certain about the third floor apartment.
The Whitlock Street fire occurred about two hours before a second, unrelated fire broke out in an empty house at 160 Great Plain Road.
The second fire Wednesday appears to have started in the kitchen, which is at the back of the house. A neighbor told firefighters the owners live in New York and don't visit often, said Assistant Fire Chief Charly Slagle, who has 25 years with the department.
The house is vacant, not abandoned. The lawn is mowed, and except for the fire damage, which was extensive at the back of the house, the house appeared to be in fine condition.
Because of the fire, however, the house suffered smoke damage throughout, and firefighters removed windows to clear the smoke. The kitchen itself and walls that connect it to the house were destroyed.
"I have a dog coming to eliminate accelerants. With that I can rule out flammable liquids, but what I think is it was electrical," said Fire Marshal Johnson. "I don't know yet, but that's a guess. It isn't suspicious. It's under investigation."