Man charged with arson in Va. Beach townhouse fire that displaced 13

Gregory James Oechsner. Credit: Virginia Beach Fire Department.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A man has been charged with arson for a townhouse fire that displaced 13 people Thursday night in Virginia Beach.

Gregory James Oechsner. Credit: Virginia Beach Fire Department.

Firefighters were called to the 600 block of Grant Avenue at 8:10 p.m. The fire was marked under control within about 30 minutes.

Family members tell 10 On Your Side that 11 residents were inside the townhouse when the fire started.

One person was taken to the hospital. Relatives say he was not physically hurt and will be OK.

Fire officials said seven adults, six children and four pets — two cats, a dog and a rabbit — were all displaced.

Officials said Friday that one of the home’s occupants, 39-year-old Gregory James Oechsner, is facing an arson charge for the fire.

Gallery: Townhouse fire in Virginia Beach

The townhouse is not a total loss, but the damage is severe.

One resident says the fire started in her bedroom on the second floor. She wasn’t home at the time.

“Hold on, hold on. I heard the kids crying in the background. The fire alarm was going off, but couldn’t really hear it. She said, ‘Can you hear me?’ I said, ‘What’s going on?’ She says, ‘The house is on fire.'”

The fire was contained just one townhouse. Officials say it didn’t spread to either home attached to it.

The family says they own the home and have insurance. The Red Cross is assisting.

Residents say they are missing another cat, but are optimistic they’ll find it.

Stay with WAVY.com for updates on this developing story.