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Originally published October 2, 2013 at 5:02 PM | Page modified October 2, 2013 at 6:22 PM

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Police suspect attempted murder-suicide in U District arson

An arson early Wednesday at an apartment building where one man either fell or jumped to his death and a second was left in critical condition is being investigated as an attempted murder-suicide, Seattle police said.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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An arson early Wednesday at an apartment building where one man either fell or jumped to his death and a second was left in critical condition is being investigated as an attempted murder-suicide, Seattle police said.

The dead man was found on the ground outside the University District building and the second man was found suffering from burns and smoke inhalation inside the apartment, according to police.

“What we think at this point is it could have been an attempted murder-suicide. We don’t know the relationship between the two guys,” said police spokesman Mark Jamieson.

The burned man was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. He had burns across nearly 20 percent of his body, according to Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.

Officers were called to the University West complex, 4544 Seventh Ave. N.E., around 1 a.m. for a report of an argument. When officers arrived outside the ninth-floor apartment, they saw smoke coming from the unit, said Jamieson.

Jamieson said officers tried to force their way into the unit, but the door was blocked.

“Smoke was filling the hallway. Once our guys forced the door, they could see the entire apartment was engulfed,” he said.

Officers went into the apartment and saw someone inside. The man, Jamieson said, refused to come out.

Police then backed away from the apartment and firefighters alerted them that a man’s body found had been found on the ground below the burning apartment, Jamieson said.

Police believe the dead man is the same man who refused to leave the apartment.

Firefighters put out the fire and found a 44-year-old man unconscious inside the apartment.

Police said the fire was deliberately set.

The apartment building is owned by the Seattle Housing Authority and is a residence for low-income tenants.

Michelle Ackermann, spokeswoman for the Seattle Housing Authority, said police went door to door to evacuate all of the ninth-floor residents. Residents on other floors evacuated as well, she said.

Several people, including police, were treated for smoke inhalation, Moore said.

Ackermann said the unit where the fire broke out was being rented by one person. University West was built in 1971.

Moore said the fire damage is estimated at $90,000.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.

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