Charge: Upset over no shopping carts, women set fire to Kent strip mall
KENT, Wash. --A three-alarm fire that gutted a Kent strip mall on Sunday may have begun because one store was out of shopping carts.
Court documents say the woman now charged with setting the fire had gone into the Dollar Tree Store at 23406 Pacific Highway S., then mentioned to an employee that there weren't any carts. She said she was going elsewhere to shop and left.
She returned and said something about "burning the store down," court documents say. She went to the greeting car aisle, then came back and announced, "The store is on fire."
Employees tried to put the fire out but failed.
The fire spread from the Dollar Tree Store to five adjacent businesses, including a post office, beauty salon and a gym. Seventy-five firefighters battled the blaze, which burned for 24 hours.
On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Linda Poplawski with first-degree arson. Court documents say the Des Moines woman has no record of criminal convictions.
Employees of the Dollar Tree Store identified Poplawski when a Kent police detective interviewed them on Sunday from the back of a fire engine.
"That's her," the detective quoted the employees as saying. "She's been watching and taking pictures the entire time."
Poplawski is being held on $225,000 bail.