Des Moines woman suspected in Kent arson

KENT, Wash. — Kent firefighters were still pouring water on what remains after this fire, so fierce, it quickly engulfed the Dollar Tree Store and heavily damaged everything else in this strip mall.

Rick Tillman showed the "water and smoke damage throughout the building," at the health and fitness club he owns. He says he helped evacuate the store next door as the fire was starting.

>> See Sunday's coverage of the Kent strip mall fire.

"By the time we got out, it was as if someone struck a big match and everything just went up in flames," Tillman said. "I ran down and then got everyone out of my health club."

And he remembers seeing this woman, 64-year-old Linda Poplawksi.

"When I was getting everybody out of the building," he said.

"Was she the person who was arrested?" he was asked.

"She's the one I saw in handcuffs," he said.

Poplawksi waived her court appearance today.  Her family listened as the prosecutor described the case against her.

"The defendant set fire to a Dollar Tree where there were 15 to 25 customers inside," said Alisha Trotter, King County deputy prosecutor. "She made verbal threats about burning down the store.  And she did."

It is something that left her neighbors at this Des Moines apartment complex stunned.

"I am really in shock," said Dawn, who declined to give her last name. "I see her all the time.  I've lived by her almost four years. I can't believe she would do something like that."

Neither can Gloria Ravert.  She had mail in the post office next door that was heavily damaged, too.

"I don't know what to think," said Ravert. "It's amazing. Looks like a total loss."

Poplawski's bail was set at $225,000.

She is to make her second appearance Wednesday.

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