Woman charged with arson after fire at abandoned home

MARYSVILLE — A woman suspected of setting five fires last month was allegedly overheard saying, “Burn (expletive) burn. Steal my money. Now, how am I going to get high?”

A Marysville officer saw the woman near the scene of the second fire. The woman pedaled off on a silver bicycle. Later the officer spotted the same woman during an unrelated call outside a grocery store. Once the woman caught sight of the officer she dropped her bike and took off running.

Officers caught her a short time later. A police dog started at two of the fire scenes and tracked back to the woman, who was identified as Jacqueline Simecki. She had a warrant for her arrest for a reckless burning charge.

Simecki allegedly had a fanny pack around her neck and a glass pipe in her bra. It appeared to contain methamphetamine, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Erika Keech wrote in court papers.

Keech earlier this week charged Simecki, 38, with second-degree arson for a June 14 blaze at an abandoned house on State Avenue. Simecki is accused of starting that fire first and then setting smaller fires around town.

Investigators looked for potential witnesses, including those living in a camp near where one of the fires were set. One person told a fire investigator that a “homeless kid named Nicholas” told him a missile had skimmed along the land before crashing into the abandoned house.

Another man said he was sleeping in his tent when a woman wearing a bikini top and shorts warned him that she’d started a fire and urged him to leave. The man didn’t know the woman and went back to sleep, according to court papers.

Meanwhile, a third man said while fire crews were extinguishing flames he was at the WinCo grocery store and heard two women arguing. He allegedly heard one woman say, “I will burn you like I did the house today.” He identified Simecki as one of the bickering women.

Officers found video footage from a business near the abandoned house. It showed a woman ride up to the house and go inside. Later she walked to the back yard, where she lifted her skirt and squatted. She went back into the house and then ran out after a minute. She is seen pedaling away.

A minute later, the video showed smoke coming from the house. Investigators believe Simecki is the woman in the surveillance footage. She is seen headed toward a motorhome near some railroad tracks. A woman living in the motorhome told investigators she heard someone talking and branches breaking. She spotted a woman running and pushing a bike on a trail. That path led to the area where a third fire was discovered.

Simecki has felony convictions for drugs and burglary. She also has 28 misdemeanors, including a trespassing conviction from May. Prosecutors asked that she be held on $25,000 bail as she has a history of failing to show up for court hearings.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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