Woman faces judge in arson at Kent strip mall

Linda Poplawski

KENT, Wash. — A woman accused of setting a fire at a Kent strip mall while shoppers were inside was in court Monday morning to enter her plea.

Linda Poplawski is charged with starting a fire that gutted the Kent Dollar Tree store and two neighboring businesses in the 23400 block of Pacific Highway South earlier this month.

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Witnesses told police they saw her walk into the greeting card aisle, angry over the lack of shopping carts, mention burning the store down and then exit 90 seconds later saying the store was on fire.

Her attorney said those may be conflicting accounts.

“There's several people mentioned at the Dollar Tree. Some people are alleged to have identified Mrs. Poplawski, so we believe identification will be an issue in the case,” her attorney said.

There were about 20 people inside the store at the time. Everyone made it out.

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Though Poplawski has no criminal record, the crime is significant enough that she's still being held on a $225,000 bond.

Meanwhile, store owners like Rick Tillman are still dealing with the damage done from a fire that burned for more than 24 hours.

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

Poplawksi's next court date is in less than two weeks.  She pleaded not guilty Monday.