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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

West Hills, Dishman Hills arsonist sentenced to 3½ years in prison

Vickie L. Smith, shown on screen, makes her initial appearance Aug. 16 in Spokane County District Court for first-degree arson charges.  (Garrett Cabeza / The Spokesman-Review)

A 53-year-old woman was sentenced to nearly 3½ years in prison for setting the West Hills and Dishman Hills fires in early August.

Vickie L. Smith pleaded guilty to one count each of first-degree arson and second-degree arson Wednesday. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Timothy Fennessy then sentenced her to 41 months in prison, according to court documents.

Smith originally faced eight counts of arson for lighting three West Hills fires and five Dishman Hills fires Aug. 3.

Smith told investigators God told her to light all eight fires to spread her message about the inability of disabled people, like her, to get housing in Spokane. She said the fires were also in retaliation for people who would not help her with her housing needs.

The West Hills fires forced evacuations and threatened dozens of structures, but none burned and no injuries were reported.

The fires damaged landscape and timber at Finch Arboretum and Indian Canyon Golf Course, documents say. They also damaged property at the Catalyst Project, a Catholic Charities Eastern Washington shelter.

The Dishman Hills fires damaged landscape and timber as well but were quickly extinguished.

Smith was arrested in Tukwila, Washington, one week after the fires.

Smith also allegedly admitted to writing graffiti in downtown Spokane referring to burning the city Aug. 3.

The prosecutor and defense attorney in the case agreed to the 41-month prison term, court records show. Smith will serve 18 months of community custody when she is released from incarceration.

Documents indicated it is believed Smith is a “mentally ill person” and her condition likely influenced the crimes. She must undergo a mental health evaluation to determine if she needs treatment.

Restitution is to be determined.