Fire officials in Prince George’s County in Maryland reported Friday that an apartment fire that displaced more than 130 people last month was started by a woman who allegedly set the building on fire because she was upset with her ex-boyfriend.
According to WFMY News 2, the incident took place around 3:30 p.m. on September 17, when Prince George’s County firefighters responded to reports of a fire in a three-story apartment building in New Carrolton. The fire, which was allegedly started by 32-year-old Natasha Ciara Joyner, was only put out two hours after firefighters arrived at the scene.
As cited by the Washington Post, Prince George’s County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady recalled that his colleagues had to gather water about a quarter of a mile down the street, as there wasn’t enough water pressure or volume in the hydrants located near the burning apartment. He added that the fire department issued a correction order to the building’s management firm, asking the company to fix the defective hydrants.
All in all, the apartment fire displaced 132 residents and resulted in about $2.2 million worth of damages, though there were no reports of any injuries.
In a written statement cited on police charging documents, Joyner said that she started the fire by lighting the bedsheets in her ex-boyfriend’s apartment with a lighter because she was “upset” with the man. No details were specified, but the Washington Post wrote that Joyner’s attorney spoke at a bail review hearing on Friday, explaining that she was in an abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend, and did not intend to cause that much damage.
Joyner’s father, Bernie Murphy, spoke to reporters after the bail review hearing and said that he is having a hard time understanding why his daughter started the apartment fire, as she was “doing everything right” while splitting time between college and her part-time job.
“She was a model kid. She met the wrong person.”
With weeks having passed since the incident, many residents of the apartment complex Joyner allegedly burned down are still trying to find new homes and get their lives back on track, the Washington Post noted. These include Lindel Schuyler, a 33-year-old man who lost all his belongings in the fire. While he eventually found a new home to live in, he recalled how he spent the weeks after the fire sleeping at hotel rooms or at the homes of family and friends, while his two children lived with his ex-wife.
According to the Washington Post, Joyner was charged at Prince George’s County District Court with arson and malicious burning in connection to the apartment fire. She is currently in custody at the Prince George’s County jail, where she awaits trial.