The blaze on Sunday afternoon eventually spread and damaged all six businesses in a strip mall, three of which were almost destroyed, fire authorities reported.
A 64-year-old woman has been charged with first-degree arson for allegedly torching a Kent Dollar Tree store Sunday, a fire that damaged several other nearby businesses, according to King County prosecutors.
Linda Poplawski is accused of starting a fire in the greeting-card aisle of the store, which is in a strip mall in the 23400 block of Pacific Highway South, around 2:30 p.m., according to charging papers.
An employee of the store told investigators that Poplawski first entered the store and commented that no shopping carts were available, according to the papers. Several seconds later, the documents say, she told employees she was going to “burn the store down.”
She apparently set the fire, then told employees about it before she left, the documents say. Employees found the blaze — about chest-high in the middle of the aisle — and began evacuating customers, according to the papers.
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The fire eventually spread and damaged all six businesses in the mall, three of which were almost destroyed, fire authorities reported.
The smoke and emergency response also temporarily shut down a portion of northbound Pacific Highway for drivers.
Authorities arrested Poplawski at the scene, as she was “apparently taking pictures and video of the fire as it continued to burn,” the papers say.
Two lighters were on her, according to the documents.
Her arraignment has been set for Nov. 28 at the Regional Justice Center in Kent, according to Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County prosecutor.
And her bail has been set at $225,000.
About 75 firefighters responded to the blaze, which burned for more than 24 hours, the papers say. No injuries were reported.
UPDATE: Charges against Linda Poplawski were dismissed in August 2017 after new evidence was discovered. Poplawski sued Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority and investigator Capt. Eric Pedersen. The lawsuit was settled in October 2019 for $100,000.