Woman accused of setting fire to her own apartment

by: Deborah Horne Updated:

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KIRKLAND, Wash. - It was a fire so devastating that nearly two years later, we easily found Hunters Run Apartment residents who remember it.

"Oh, yeah, vividly," said Jan Ruffner.

Ruffner was first to spot it. 

"I saw there was smoke coming out the door," she told KIRO 7.  "And the windows were broken."

She called her friend Sherry Starkel who lived in the apartment below the one on fire.

"And came home and we couldn't even get in our place or nothing," Starkel said.

And before long, Starkel’s husband got sick.

"He had four mini strokes and a slight heart attack," she said.   "All of that with her."

They blame the woman who was living in the burning apartment, 64-year-old Timmie Winston.  

Winston and her developmentally disabled son were home when it caught fire.  So many residents had complained about Winston, she was just days from being evicted.  

Starkel said, "We told them she was going to do something you know like that, just the way that she was."

Starkel said she frightened them.   "She used to walk around here and take down everybody's license plate numbers,” Starkel  said.  “And read their water meters because she thought people were stealing her water, of all things." 

"Yeah, she was scary,' agreed Ruffner. "You never knew what she was talking about or doing about you."

Still, court documents suggest the authorities did not have the physical evidence to charge Winston.  So they built a circumstantial case based on a suicide note she wrote to her brother before the fire. And her confession that she wanted to die while being treated at the hospital after the fire.  

Her former neighbors say it's about time she was held responsible.   “Took a while,” said Ruffner, “But I think that's good. I mean, you know, she did it.”

Charges were filed against Winston just last  Thursday.  She is to be arraigned on the one charge of first degree arson on October 3rd.