Charges: St. Paul apartment fire that displaced 30 started when woman threw firework into grass
An 18-year-old is now charged in connection to a fire that spread to a St. Paul apartment and displaced 30 people this month.
Aisha Wali Abdulle is charged with starting a fire by negligence and causing more than $2,500 of property damage.
St. Paul firefighters were called to an apartment building in the 1300 block of St. Paul Avenue at around 4:20 p.m. on July 8 and saw flames had engulfed trees that were against the building and an attic space above the third-floor units.
The building was evacuated and crews extinguished the flames without any injuries reported. However, 17 units were condemned and 30 people were left without their homes.
Court documents state that residents told investigators they heard fireworks outside the building before the fire started. One resident looked outside after hearing the fireworks and saw a grass fire in front of the building spreading quickly, and another had video of two females trying to put it out.
Investigators determined that people arrived in a vehicle and set off fireworks that caused the fire.
The driver of that vehicle told police that they were going to a party and parked in the area. As they were grabbing things to take to the party, Abdulle started setting off fireworks in the street, according to a criminal complaint.
It adds that the driver warned Abdulle not to set off fireworks near the vehicle or dry grass, but Abdulle then lit a firework and tossed it into the grass, which caught fire. They tried to put it out but it spread to quickly so they called 911 and then drove off when fire crews arrived.
Abdulle added that she didn’t mean to start the fire, the complaint states.
She’s charged via summons and faces up to three years and a $5,000 fine if convicted. Her first appearance is set for Aug. 7.