Homeless woman sets fire in Tarrant County Jail

03/17/2014 3:29 PM

03/17/2014 3:30 PM

A 48-year-old homeless woman is being held in a hospital mental ward, accused of setting a fire in the Tarrant County Jail early Sunday.

The fire occurred in a public hallway of the jail, 100 N. Lamar St., about 1:30 a.m.

The hallway is near the jail’s Belknap Street exit, where inmates are released from the jail around the clock, according to Tarrant County sheriff’s spokesman Terry Grisham.

“On a cold night, it’s not unusual to have street people come walk in the door and try to get warm,” Grisham said.

Arson investigators believe that the woman ignited paper with a cigarette lighter, then pushed it under the door of a janitor’s closet.

The fire, extinguished by jail personnel trained in fighting jail fires, scorched the door’s surface but did not damage the closet interior, a Fort Worth police report says. A shirt found in the hall in front of the closet had also been intentionally ignited, the report says.

Grisham said the suspect was found sleeping near the closet door.

“We evacuated her from the area, extinguished the fire, and held her for arson investigators,” Grisham said.

She was taken by ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital for treatment of possible burns and/or smoke inhalation before being admitted into the mental ward.

It was not immediately clear whether arson investigators with the Fort Worth Fire Department intend to seek charges against her.

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