Published: Jul 09, 2011 5:56 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 09, 2011 4:59 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla.-Four families were left homeless Friday morning after a fire ripped through the Palm Vista Apartments in Fort Myers. 

"The big problem was this building was toward the center of the complex so getting water on that building was a bit difficult," said Fort Myers Fire District Chief Ken Dobson. 

The fire broke out shortly before 7:00 a.m. Nearby departments rushed to Central Avenue to help crews in Fort Myers contain the blaze.

"Firefighters were able to make a quick interior attack and search to make sure no one was in there," Dobson told WINK News.

But by then, flames had spread quickly through the attic.

"We had a lot of extra long hose lays and simultaneously doing searches and getting people out of the way delays getting water on it," explained Dobson.

Police told WINK News Jerry White, 60, confessed to starting the fire at his own apartment complex.

His neighbors said White is mentally unstable and they aren't surprised he's responsible for starting the blaze.

"Plenty of times he shouldn't have been here doing stuff and nothing was done. This is why this fire started," said Robert Santiago, who lost his home.