Original article no longer available
The Desert Sun
City News Service • November 21, 2008
Apartment blaze began as woman dropped match in living room
A woman accused of setting a fire that displaced the residents of a 60-unit Palm Springs apartment complex told an investigator she watched as a fallen match started a blaze in her living room but did not tell anyone before fleeing, according to a court document.
Nancy Mohr who is charged with reckless arson told a Palm Springs Fire Department investigator shortly after the Oct. 20 fire that she had tried to light a cigarette, but the match head broke off and fell onto a large pillow in the middle of her living room at the Andalucia Apartments, according to a written statement submitted to the court.
Deputy Fire Marshal Ricke Warstler, who prepared the declaration in support of an arrest warrant, said the woman told him that when the pillow began to burn, she did not try to put out the fire because “the air conditioner was on and (she) believed that the air would blow the fire out.”
Mohr, 53, said she “watched the fire continue to grow until she felt that she may become injured,” then fled “the apartment without calling 911 or notifying anyone of the fire,” according to Warstler’s declaration, which notes that she had soot on her face and singed hair on her arms.
It took nearly 90 minutes to extinguish the fire in the 300 block of South Sunrise Way, according to Warstler, who said two residents had to be rescued from the third floor by emergency personnel.
He said all residents were displaced for about two days, and about half of the building remains uninhabitable.
Damage was estimated at $500,000 to the structure and $250,000 to contents, Warstler said.
Mohr told the investigator that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and suffers from depression, and that she had not taken her medication that day because she had not eaten, according to his declaration.
She also said “people were cooking methamphetamine in her apartment without her permission,” but did not know who they were, and had used the drug the previous day, Warstler wrote.
A witness told investigators that she overheard Mohr arguing with her roommate the day before the fire and that she shouted out, “I’m going to burn the building down,” according to the declaration.
Mohr’s roommate, Laura MacGregor, told the investigator on the day of the fire that she found the defendant sitting on a retaining wall next to the apartment building. Mohr, she said, told her that their unit was on fire.
Mohr is due back in court on Nov. 24 for a felony settlement conference