South Hill woman praised for saving son from fire arrested, allegedly set blaze

Staff writerApril 24, 2014 

A woman publicly praised for rescuing her toddler son from a fire at their South Hill home was arrested Thursday for allegedly setting the blaze.

Pierce County sheriff’s deputies arrested 37-year-old Melinda Sayers on suspicion of first-degree arson, in connection to the April 1 fire at her home in the 12500 block of 107th Avenue Court East.

The News Tribune does not generally name suspects before they have been charged with a crime, except in cases where a suspect has become a public figure.

Sayers spoke with multiple media outlets following the fire, chronicling how she said she escaped with her 2-year-old son through a window before a large explosion.

Investigators believe Sayers lit a candle and opened the valve of an oxygen tank in the home to start the fire, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

She allegedly told investigators she started the fire to delay her infant daughter from coming home from the hospital, Troyer said.

“She states she started the fire because she had too much going on,” he wrote in a statement.

Sayers told Q13 the 11-month-old baby, Abigail, was born prematurely and died in the hospital days after the fire. The baby was not present at the time of the fire. The oxygen tanks at the home were in preparation for the infant’s home care, she said. 

“Daughter dies day after ‘Superwoman’ saved son from explosion,” one headline on the station’s website reads.

“We have nowhere to live,” Sayers told Q13 after the fire. “We have nothing for her (Abigail), so it’s really hard.”

The family told KOMO-TV that they were struggling, with husband Chris Sayers out of work and a car recently repossessed.

Troyer said the public has been supporting them through an online fundraiser and other donations for the past couple weeks.

“I would love to speak with you regarding our story,” Sayers wrote in response to an email from The News Tribune two days after the fire. “Unfortunately our baby girl Abigail died at Children`s Hospital the night the (Q13) story aired. I can call you tomorrow.”

The newspaper delayed an interview pending results of the fire investigation.

A message for Sayers was not immediately returned Thursday.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268


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