Meridian Fire Department investigating house fire

Meridian, Ms. (WTOK) - The Meridian Fire Department is investigating a suspected case of arson.

The house fire Friday morning claimed the life of a pet and a woman was initially trapped inside.

Firefighters responded to the call in the 1400 block of 35th Avenue around 9:30 a.m..

A concerned resident, Ashley Fox, captured the frightening moments on her phone. The video showed flames engulfing the house.

"This is really a total loss. It is what it is right now. I probably have to tear it down,” said property owner Jerry Clayton.

Clayton says his renter managed to push out a window A/C unit and climbed out to safety.

"She's still pretty hysterical right now,” said Clayton on the scene. “She made it out but it has an effect on her."

The contents of the house were destroyed, as well as the structure. Clayton says it's going to cost him a lot to recover.

"It's in the thousands, plus I lost the house. The cost is going to be a pretty good bit. At this point there's not much I can do about it, except get this house tore down so it doesn't become a hazard," Clayton said.

Fire officials say they're investigating the fire as arson.

"I did have a gallon of gas for a lawn mower. It was on the other end of the porch,” said Clayton. “You never know how far a person will go on the vengeance side."

There's a $5,000 reward offered through the state fire marshal's office and a $1500 reward offered through Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who set the fire.