Oak Harbor woman rescued from blaze she allegedly started

A 66-year-old Oak Harbor woman who was rescued from a fire in Oak Harbor Nov. 4 has been charged with setting the blaze, court documents indicate.

Laura Duncan pleaded not guilty in Island County Superior Court Nov. 29 to a charge of reckless burning in the first degree. But this week, Island County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme amended the count to a more-serious charge of first-degree arson.

The Oak Harbor Fire Department extinguished a fire that fully engulfed a trailer home on Crosby Avenue Nov. 4. Two women, 40-year-old Nancy Dehn and Duncan, lived in the home, according to a report by Detective Mike Bailey with the Oak Harbor Police.

Bailey wrote that Dehn saved Duncan after seeing smoke and fire coming from the older woman’s room. Dehn kicked in the door and dragged Duncan outside, the report states.

Duncan allegedly admitted to Detective Tony Slowik that she used a lighter to set things on fire in her room. She also said she had been drinking, she wanted to commit suicide and she “had a conversation with her cat,” Bailey’s report states.

According to Ohme, at least one dog, and possibly other pets, died in the fire.

Duncan was admitted to Compass Mental Health in Mukilteo, then later released and arrested.

If convicted of the arson charge, Duncan could face up to two years and three months in prison under the standard sentencing range.

Ohme said Dehn had allowed Duncan to live in the house because she was homeless. Dehn ended up losing her home and all her belongings, Ohme said, and she’s having trouble getting any help.

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