Crime

Two charged in Lakewood apartment fire that forced woman to jump from balcony

Pierce County prosecutors have charged two people with first-degree arson for allegedly starting a fire that forced a woman to jump from a second-story balcony to escape the flames.

Alicia Stephens, 25, was arraigned Friday. Bail was set at $250,000.

Lakewood police still were searching for Roger Faleafine, 30.

The fire started the morning of Sept. 5 at the Lone Pine Apartments, 5212 Chicago Ave. SW.

Heavy flames at the front of the building destroyed the staircase, forcing a 60-year-old woman to leap from the second floor after her clothes caught fire, West Pierce firefighters said.

The woman suffered severe burns but is expected to survive.

Prosecutors say one of the woman’s neighbors, who has not been identified, was the target of the arson. The fire started from an accelerant poured near the stairwell.

Stephens was arrested Wednesday, but police have not said how they linked her to the crime.

Charging papers give this account:

Stephens told detectives she was riding her bicycle Wednesday morning when she saw Faleafine arguing with an unknown man.

During the argument, the man allegedly pointed a gun at Faleafine and accidentally discharged the firearm. The bullet hit Stephens’ bike.

Stephens and Faleafine fled and Faleafine went to a gas station to fill a gas can with fuel. About 20 minutes later, the fire roared to life.

Stephens told police she didn’t see Faleafine start the blaze but suspected that’s what he was going to do.

He allegedly told Stephens, “I’m gonna go handle business” before they parted ways. Faleafine later nodded at Stephens when they met again.

The fire damaged four apartments, including that of the man who likely was targeted. He is believed to be the man Faleafine was arguing with.

Prosecutors said they might file additional charges against Stephens and Faleafine.

Faleafine is described as Asian/Pacific Islander, 5 feet 11 and 230 pounds with black hair.

Anyone who has information on his whereabouts is asked to call Lakewood police at 253-830-5000 or the department’s tip line at 253-830-5064.

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