ARLINGTON — Teresa Martinez remembered inviting her estranged husband to sleep with her but didn’t remember stopping by his apartment minutes before it was engulfed in flames.
Martinez told police she went for milk at the Trafton store after hanging up with the man and then drove to her daughter’s place. She didn’t remember making any other stops, police reported.
Martinez has denied starting the Oct. 24 blaze that gutted 2 Bits and More, an indoor flea market and thrift shop. The Arlington woman’s estranged husband lived in an apartment that had been built in the back of the store.
Video surveillance taken near the building reportedly captured Martinez’s green Jaguar near the apartment the night of the fire. The car only stays for about five minutes. Six minutes later, smoke was spotted coming from the building.
Prosecutors on Friday charged Martinez with second-degree domestic violence arson. She was being held on $500,000 bail.
“The nature of fire is that it spreads indiscriminately and causes serious harm. While no one was injured physically in this incident, had people been inside the building and connected properties at issue, this very easily could have resulted in severe injury to human life,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Michael Boska wrote.
The defendant, 53, is expected to be arraigned next week. Martinez, who has several aliases, has 23 misdemeanor convictions. Most of those appear to be driving offenses, including DUI.
Her daughter told police that Martinez couldn’t have started the fire because her mom was passed out in her trailer at the time. The woman said she saw Martinez in bed at 7:30 p.m.
The fire was reported around 7:15 p.m.
Detectives learned that earlier that night Martinez and her estranged husband were at the American Legion about a block from his apartment. The man told police that Martinez was “drunk and angry and yelled at him for not responding to a text message,” Boska wrote.
The couple argued and Martinez left. She later called the man and asked him to spend the night with her. He told police that when he turned down his wife’s invitation she stated, “I’m gonna light your (expletive) house on fire,” according to court papers.
At first the man didn’t believe the defendant would really burn down his apartment. As he was walking back home he spotted the smoke. He ran to the fire department, Boska wrote.
The county fire marshal later ruled that the fire had been intentionally set. Investigators suspect that Martinez started some of the man’s clothes on fire, court papers said.
The damage to the building and contents was estimated at $455,000. The building on North Olympic Avenue dates back to 1901 and has been remodeled many times.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.