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Kansas City woman charged with arson allegedly set apartment on fire, threatened neighbors

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City woman is facing some heat after allegedly setting fire to her own apartment building twice on the same day.

Marquita Washington, 26, is charged with first degree arson and knowingly burning or exploding.

The door to unit 211 at Gotham Apartments on Linwood Blvd. is now black from smoke and fire. Court records say Tuesday night, Marquita Washington was pacing the halls flicking a lighter.

“It was really kind of tragic and dangerous as well. I really didn’t know what was going on,” a neighbor said.

The neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, first found out there was a problem around 9 p.m. Tuesday. A woman who lives down the hall started smelling smoke and looked out her door to see flames. Fearing her safety, she jumped out the window, getting some cuts and bruises.

“I was coming up from the stairs and my intuition just said—go check on your neighbors. So I went, left the hallway, let me see what’s going on with her,” said the neighbor.

The woman says Marquita Washington had torched a neighbor’s welcome mat and then started shouting threats to other people on the second floor.

“She come out, ‘Oh I’m going to burn you guys up!’ Oh my goodness so you know that put a red flag in my mind. I needed to alert neighbors, I need to get my son up,” the neighbor said.

Just before midnight, a neighbor snapped video of Washington carrying a lighter in the hallway. You can hear the smoke alarms going off in the background.

“Then I heard a whoosh and the fire got going. I knocked on about 13 people’s doors,” said the neighbor.

Neighbors started evacuating as police and fire crews arrived. Court records say Washington had poured some kind of liquid from what looked like a bleach bottle all over the hallway. Witnesses could hear her yelling and throwing things. Moments later, investigators say Washington set her own apartment on fire.

“It was really scary, you know. My heart-felt for babies, because you know there are a couple newborns in here. When KCPD got here they kind of put a heartwarming on my spirit and got my son out and just felt very good about myself,” the neighbor said.

Washington’s apartment is now badly damaged inside. Water used to put the fire out ruined several units on the first floor below. Residents there have been forced out by building management until repairs can be made.

“I don’t know why she would do that or why anyone would do that,” said the neighbor.

Police arrested Marquita Washington at a bust stop down the street. They found the bleach bottle in the parking lot, and the lighter in her purse.

“Very scary, very tragic. I just really hope we get our justice which I think we got and I just think she really needs help and I hope they help her,” the neighbor said.

Marquita Washington denied setting the fires to police. She appeared in court Thursday and is being held on $50,000 bond. She’s due back in court October 19.