Suspected burglar sets Phoenix home on fire; cat rescued

Posted: Updated:
Woodie Williams (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Woodie Williams (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Firefighters treat a cat that was rescued from a house fire. (Source: Phoenix Fire Dept.) Firefighters treat a cat that was rescued from a house fire. (Source: Phoenix Fire Dept.)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A suspected burglar set a Phoenix home on fire early Friday morning, according to Capt. Reda Bigler with the Phoenix Fire Dept.

That suspect has been identified as 37-year-old Woodie Leo Williams.

[Booking photo: Woodie Williams]

The fire happened at approximately 4 a.m. in a neighborhood near 7th Street and Thomas Road.

Police took Williams into custody after he barricaded himself in a room inside that home and started a fire in that room.

Initially, it was an alarm that brought officers to the home.

[Raw video: Phoenix Fire Dept. briefing on house fire]

The homeowner, who lives there by herself and was not home when the alarm sounded, met police at the scene and gave them a key to access the house.

"Police had control of the scene. They did a very good job," said Jack Potts, who is the homeowner's significant other.

[Raw video: Remarks from homeowner's friend]

Police said they heard someone when they went inside the home and that is when the suspect started the fire.

"Kind of an unusual situation," said Capt. Bigler. "They think that's just a way to escape. However, probably not realizing that you start a fire that creates heavy smoke and usually you're not going to outrun that smoke."

Firefighters were called to the scene and quickly got the fire under control.

"Firefighters went in and quickly put the fire out that was in this room," explained Capt. Bigler. "They had smoke billowing from the front door and from this front room. They knew that he had barricaded himself in the bedroom, however, that smoke had made its way throughout the house. 

Firefighters also rescued a cat.

[Raw video: Phoenix Firefighters treating cat]

"They extinguished the fire and found a cat in the midst of all that which was obviously the homeowner's," said Capt. Bigler. "Brought that cat outside got the Fido Bag off of one of our trucks and put that thing to use and were successful with resuscitation efforts."

Capt. Bigler said 25 to 30 firefighters responded to the scene.

Thomas Road was closed for a couple of hours.

The home has smoke and water damage and firefighters said the homeowner will not be able to live there.

[Photos: Suspected burglar sets Phoenix home on fire]

Potts said the homeowner is an artist and a lot of her work was damaged.

"It was very tough," said Potts. "Emotionally. obviously, this is very difficult and it's hard for the neighborhood."

Investigators are working to figure out how the burglary suspect started the fire.

[Google Map: 7th Street and Thomas Road]

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