Police arrested a woman on suspicion of arson following a Monday morning apartment complex fire that neighbors say began in her unit.
Spokane firefighters responded to the fire at Second Avenue and Pine Street near downtown Spokane.
Deputy Fire Chief Mark John said firefighters arrived at about 10:15 a.m. and saw heavy smoke and flames billowing from a second-floor apartment window on the building’s southwest corner. About 10 to 15 fire engines arrived, with about 50 firefighters. They were able to extinguish the blaze within minutes.
John said a search of the involved unit showed nobody was inside. A second unit was also damaged by smoke and flames. There were no reported injuries.
A police officer in the area of the fire saw Lisa J. Milliken, 39, in an alley and noticed flames coming from the apartment, Spokane police said in a news release. The officer talked to her briefly but released her pending further investigation.
Investigators soon determined the fire started in Milliken’s bedroom. Police arrested her after conducting several witness interviews and after firefighters determined an “incendiary device” started the blaze.
David Chapman, who lives in a second-floor unit with his wife Courtney and two kids, said he believed the fire began in Milliken’s bedroom. He said Milliken had been acting erratic for the past few days, saying she was going to light her bed on fire.
“That’s what I’m predicting,” he said as he stood on the sidewalk and pointed to her room, which was turned to a pile of ash and smoke.
Vinessa Sowles, who lives on the first floor, Milliken began verbally attacking neighbors.
“She started going off,” she said. “And then I come home from an appointment and see this. Are you serious?”
Milliken was booked into the Spokane County Jail at about 3 p.m. Monday under suspicion of first-degree arson.
The historic building, 102 E. Second Ave., is owned by SNAP and was built in 1906.
This article was updated Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 to add additional information provided by the Spokane Police Department.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.