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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley apartment fire could be result of arson; Amber Shay made initial court appearance Tuesday for unrelated child abandonment charge

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 14, 2021

A 23-year-old woman could face first-degree arson charges after she told deputies she lit a box, a stroller and a computer on fire inside her Spokane Valley apartment Monday morning, according to search warrant documents filed Tuesday.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze, limiting damage to her unit at Eagle Pointe Apartments, 2718 N. Bowdish Road. No one was injured.

Amber L. Shay said in the documents that she lit the fire because she was scared, was trying to find a “tick” in her apartment and was trying to figure out “the codes.” She said she started the fire to solve these issues, got scared and ran away because of the voices she was hearing and to escape the thick smoke.

Spokane Valley Fire Department arson investigator Al Krugh said in the documents there were two points of origin for the apartment fire – both on the south side of the apartment in and near the living room. There were no indications the fires were accidental or electrical, the documents said.

They said there was severe smoke damage at the front door to the apartment, and the walls and ceiling were covered in black soot. There was also black soot in the foyer that traveled up to the third level of the apartment complex.

After reportedly smelling plastic burning and seeing black smoke, Jeremiah Hoke, who was at the complex, said in the documents he entered Shay’s apartment to try to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher, as well as to see if anyone was inside. The fire department said others also tried to put the fire out with fire extinguishers but were unsuccessful.

Hoke said in the documents the smoke was so thick he had to be on his hands and knees to enter the apartment. He was unable to locate the fire because of the smoke and unable to locate anyone inside, the documents stated.

The documents said law enforcement contacted Shay Sunday night because her 2-year-old son was left home alone and found naked outside in front of the apartment complex. The child was taken into protective custody. Shay was arrested after the fire incident for suspicion of second-degree abandonment of a person, documents said.

She made her first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court on that charge Tuesday.

Court Commissioner Nichole Swennumson released Shay during Tuesday’s proceedings.

Swennumson cited documents that said Shay has bipolar disorder and/or schizophrenia, as well as substance abuse issues. Shay has no felony convictions.

She is scheduled for an arraignment at 11 a.m. Dec. 22.

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