A woman in Spokane, Washington, admitted this week to starting a massive fire at an area Home Depot to serve as a distraction while she and two accomplices made off with a six-pack of paper towels, a bag of Miracle-Gro, a roll of black wire, and a potted plant.
Kennie A. Calvert, 59, was arrested on Sunday while attempting to shoplift at another Home Depot in the city, the Spokane Police Department reported in a press release. But authorities had already gathered enough evidence to charge Calvert with first-degree arson for her alleged actions at the Home Depot on Newport Highway the week before.
According to court documents obtained by the Spokesman-Review, Calvert entered the home improvement store at about 9 p.m. on May 19 pushing a shopping cart and carrying a lighter. Surveillance video showed her moving from the garden center to the main store shortly before the fire started in Aisle 2, where outdoor power equipment and fuel are kept.
Officials said the fire started at 9:20 p.m. and quickly erupted into 25-foot flames that would have destroyed the building if not for the store's sprinkler system. A near-empty metal container of TruFuel would later be found right where the fire is believed to have started.
Authorities estimate that the fire caused between $6 and $7 million in damages. Images shared by Spokane police show dozens of items, including lawn mowers and weed whackers, scorched and doused with water. Video posted by KHQ-TV showed more of the same.
Ironically, Calvert is the one who alerted Home Depot staff about the fire, though according to court documents, she did so "casually." As she spoke to the employees, she allegedly dropped a BIC lighter on the floor by accident before quickly picking it up.
Meanwhile, one of Calvert's accomplices, 26-year-old Sierra Fry, was slyly exiting the store with a truckload of gardening supplies. Shortly after, surveillance footage would allegedly catch Calvert, Fry, and an unidentified 33-year-old man loading the stolen items in the bed of a truck they all arrived in before driving away.
On Wednesday, police arrested Fry for retail theft with special circumstances for her involvement in two other thefts besides the one at Home Depot where a fire was started.
Calvert has been booked into the Spokane County Jail and is currently being held on $100,000 bond. Police noted that she has 21 prior felony convictions for a litany of crimes, including forgery, possession of a controlled substance, identity theft, and taking a vehicle without permission.