Man allegedly set girlfriend on fire in South Hill mobile home

Staff writerMay 6, 2014 

A South Hill mobile home was gutted Monday, May 5, 2014, after a man allegedly lit his girlfriend on fire inside.

ALISON HAYWOOD

A 34-year-old South Hill woman was in critical condition Tuesday after her boyfriend allegedly set her on fire and burned down their mobile home Monday night.

The boyfriend was taken into custody after the fire but has yet to be charged. The News Tribune generally does not name suspects until they are charged.

Neighbors in the Hidden Glen Mobile Park in the 7600 block of 159th Street East called 911 about 7:45 p.m. to report the blaze.

Crystal Hansen, who lives nearby, said the woman was on fire when she came running from her mobile home, screaming for help. Hansen’s husband used a garden hose to put out the flames and they wrapped the woman in a towel.

“I was just trying to help her,” said the husband, Guillermo Ponce.

Central Pierce firefighters arrived and put out the fire within 10 minutes. They took the woman to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she remained in critical condition Tuesday with burns over most of her body.

Lakewood police spotted the 39-year-old boyfriend shortly after the fire and pulled over his pickup truck. He fought with officers and kicked their police dog, Koda, in the mouth, before the dog and handler took him into custody, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Neighbors said the couple moved in about six months ago and mostly kept to themselves.

It was unclear what the couple was arguing about but Troyer said the boyfriend assaulted the woman and doused her with gasoline. He then used a lighter to set her on fire and also burned himself in the process.

He fled before help arrived.

The fire rekindled later after firefighters had left and gutted the mobile home about 11 p.m.

Fire crews were called back to the scene, because workers at the site when the fire restarted weren’t equipped to fight the blaze, Central Pierce spokesman Ed Hrivnak said. 

“There was a deputy fire marshal on scene at the time this occurred,” Hrivnak said. “There were some Pierce County detectives on scene, but they were not technically fire watch, they were processing evidence.”

An investigator initially believed the second outbreak was a separate fire, but later it appeared the first fire had reignited, Hrivnak said.

“The investigation is not done, but it’s leaning toward rekindled, which is unfortunate,” he said. “We’re certainly going to be looking at our policies and procedures on how we do things, with this.”

Pierce County sheriff’s arson investigators also believe the fire rekindled, Troyer said. When the fire started up again, he said detectives grabbed a hose, to wet down neighboring houses to keep the blaze from spreading.

Staff writers Alison Haywood and Alexis Krell contributed to this report.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

stacia.glenn@thenewstribune.com

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