Fire at North Austin group home ruled intentional

One person is in custody charged with setting a fire at North Austin group home for the disabled on fire. Thirty people who lived at Hannah’s Place off Running Bird Lane are now displaced.  Firefighters say the suspect was a client at the house. The operator, Terrie Smith, identified her as a woman who moved into the house a week ago. The client shared a room with five other females. Firefighters say they were all in the room when the fire started around 6:00 a.m.  Smith says a staff member at the house saw smoke coming from underneath the door, went in, saw the fire and screamed for help. All 27 residents and three staff members got out safely and called 911.  Firefighters knocked the flames out within 10 minutes. Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Palmer Buck says investigators later discovered that the fire alarm system at the house wasn't working. Smith acknowledged the failure and says it had been out for about two years. She says she didn't have the finances to upgrade the system.

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