McAllen police arrest woman for apartment complex fire
Tue, 06 Sep 2011 15:32:54 GMT —
A McAllen woman who took a number of sleep medications and passed out with a lit cigarette is behind bars for starting a fire that consumed an apartment complex.
McAllen police arrested 26-year-old Shannon Marie Mills on two counts of deadly conduct on Monday.
Mills is accused of being responsible for a fire that sent a firefighter and 16 other people to the hospital and left 100 people homeless.
McAllen firefighters and police were called to the D'Marco Condominiums at 1212 East Dallas Avenue shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday.
Several people had to jump from their balcones to escape the flames from a massive fire that tore through the complex.
Witnesses told investigators that they believed the fire started in Mills' apartment.
Police put out a radio alert to find her. An officer found her on the 500 block of East Business 83 covered in soot and walking away from the fire.
Mills was taken to the McAllen Police Department where she allegedly told investigators that she had taken Ambien, Tylenol PM and Nyquil. All three medications induce sleep.
The 26-year-old woman claims she fell asleep with a lit cigarrette in bed and woke up due to the thick black smoke around her.
Investigators said that Mills walked to a local corner store but did not call police or the fire department.
McAllen police report that they interviewed people who were injured escaping the fire.
At least two of them told investigators that they wanted to press charges.
Mills is charged with two Class A Misdemeanor deadly conduct charges.
Under state law, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable up to one year in prison and a $4,000 dollar fine.
Mills appeared before a McAllen municipal court judge on Monday where she was issued a total of $10,000 dollars in bonds.
100 People Homeless
Residents evacuated from the apartment complex have been relocated to the Knights Inn off Highway 281 in Pharr.
But the rent for their rooms has only been paid until Wednesday.
Many Rio Grande Valley residents are reaching out to help the victims in the fire.
Donations of clothing, food, water, toilettries and other items can be left at the Knights Inn.
Those wishing to help are also encouraged to call the American Red Cross at (956) 787-7851.
Action 4 News will provide more information as it becomes available.RAW VIDEO: McAllen Apartment Complex Fire Aftermath RAW VIDEO: McAllen Apartment Complex Fire Witness