A 28-year old woman who had been staying with an acquaintance at Les Chateaux apartments has been charged with setting the early-morning fire in a lower level storage area that displaced 60 tenants on Feb. 13. Capt. Ryan Sornberger of the Warwick Police
A 28-year old woman who had been staying with an acquaintance at Les Chateaux apartments has been charged with setting the early-morning fire in a lower level storage area that displaced 60 tenants on Feb. 13.
Capt. Ryan Sornberger of the Warwick Police Detective Division said the woman apparently had a disagreement with the tenant with whom she was staying and admitted to setting the fire.
Police charged Alyana Milton, of Old Post Road in Charlestown, with first-degree arson on Feb. 25. She was arraigned in District Court in Warwick and ordered held without bail.
According to a Providence Journal story, Milton was the focus of a story they published in 2013 about gaps in the state system of care for severely mentally ill children, teenagers and young adults. Milton was 16 at the time, and reportedly it was no longer safe for her to live at home due to her history of outbursts. According to the Journal story, she was moved to an intensive residential treatment program in Massachusetts and then to a group home in Providence.
Residents of Les Chateaux were awakened at 3 a.m. by the building fire alarm. Smoke quickly filled the first floor. When Warwick firefighters arrived, flames had broken out and Fire Chief Peter McMichael estimated the situation was one to two minutes away from being a tragedy.
Thanks to tenants who assisted one another and firefighters, everyone was able to get out of the building without injury. The city opened the Pilgrim Senior Center as shelter for the residents, who later were taken to the Crowne Plaza. The Red Cross covered costs for two nights at the hotel.
Community response to the fire was overwhelming. Mayor Frank Picozzi placed a donation bucket in front of his home, and between that and drives by local groups, more than $17,000 was collected to help those displaced. Tenants of 10 of the 45 units closed by the fire had insurance. They passed up sharing in the money donated.
According to the mayor’s office, all of the displaced tenants now have housing.