HOUSTON -

Arson investigators with the Houston Fire Department said a 22-year-old man may have used a Molotov cocktail to start a fire at a Southwest Houston apartment building that left seven families homeless.

Several families had to run for their lives after the fire erupted Tuesday afternoon at the Mar Del Sol Apartments on Woodfair near Beltway 8 and Bissonnet. Some people lost everything.

"A friend of ours broke in the door because the fire went so quick. It spread out so quick" said Lupe Lugo.

Lugo's three grandchildren were inside her apartment when she noticed the flames from outside. She said a man helped pull out the kids, but not in time to save their four puppies, two gerbils, or school supplies that a drug store recently donated.

"They had friends already bringing them school supplies to give her a helping hand, but everything's just gone right now," said Lugo's granddaughter, Christie Castaneda. "They're stuck right now, they don't even know how they're going to start school right now."

Arson investigators, with the help of a K-9, sifted through the charred rubble left behind by the flames. The scene briefly turned chaotic after HPD detained three people during the investigation. In the end, officers arrested the 22-year-old man who may have used a Molotov cocktail to start the fire.

"It was started with some sort of incendiary gasoline, potentially a Molotov cocktail," said Senior Investigator Keith Kennedy.

A total of 33 people were displaced by the fire. The Red Cross helped place four families in hotels. Another three families are staying with family and friends.

PHOTOS: Fire engulfs SW Houston apartment complex

Published On: Aug 12 2014 04:39:08 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 12 2014 05:14:01 PM CDT

The Mar Del Sol apartments on Woodfair Drive and Club Creek Drive caught on fire Tuesday.

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(Photo by John Treadgold/KPRC Local 2)