PAULDEN - A 23-year-old transient is in jail after Yavapai County Sheriff's deputies arrested her Saturday night for allegedly starting a fire that destroyed a mobile home in Paulden.
The home, in the 25000 block of North Cottonwood Lane, outside of the Chino Valley Fire District, was a total loss. The residents were not home at the time of the fire, which a neighbor reported at about 8:30 p.m., and no one was injured. The residents said they had been away since noon, but upon hearing of the fire, returned shortly after deputies arrived, according to a report from Sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn.
Chino Valley Fire crews found the mobile home heavily involved with flames, but after determining no life safety issues were at stake, did not initiate fire extinguishment, said Lt. Rob Zazueta, Chino Valley Fire spokesman.
When winds threatened to spread the intense flames to surrounding vegetation and neighboring residences during the stage 2 fire restrictions, Fire Chief Scott Freitag and Battalion Chief Allen Harris ordered the fire to be extinguished.
"While there has been some rain, it has not been enough to lessen the fire danger caused by the drought. Under normal condition, we would not have extinguished the fire, but the danger to the greater area caused us to choose a different course of action," Freitag said.
According to D'Evelyn, neighbors told deputies they saw an unidentified female enter and leave the mobile home at least twice after the residents left, the second time within an hour of the fire becoming visible. The same neighbors said they saw the woman pass by the burning home, the report states.
The home's residents identified the woman as Alicia Webb, an acquaintance of a family member. Deputies located her near Highway 89 in Paulden and detained her. The report states Webb admitted to the arson, and that she lit clothes on fire inside the home because she was "angry," but would not elaborate. The disposable lighter Webb used was in her possession, the report states.
Charges against Webb include arson of a structure/occupied structure, trespass, burglary and criminal damage. She is in the Camp Verde Detention Center on a $50,000 bond. The investigation remains active to determine motive.
Zazueta reminds anyone living outside of the fire district response area that a fire contract can be purchased through CVFD's main office, giving the occupants fire protection as well as emergency medical response resources. The cost of the contract is based on the property valuation plus a $50 processing fee.