Arrest made following St. Anthony fire


An arrest has been made in relation to a July 5 fire at Equinox Apartments in St. Anthony. The fire burned early in the morning on the third floor of the complex, located in the 2800 block of Silver Lane, allegedly set by a woman targeting one of the building’s residents. (courtesy of Google Maps)

Cierra Queen Johnson

Woman allegedly targeted apartment resident

A Maple Grove woman has been charged with first-degree arson following a July 5 fire at Equinox Apartments in St. Anthony.

According to court documents, Cierra Queen Johnson had allegedly been threatening one of the building’s tenants for days, before igniting the hallway outside of the woman’s apartment.

The 31-year-old allegedly said she would burn the entire complex down if the resident did not stop dating a person who shares a child with Johnson.   

According to a news release from the St. Anthony Fire Department, city police and fire personnel arrived at the complex in the 2800 block of Silver Lane just before 3 a.m. and located the blaze on the top floor of the three-story building. 

The fire was set in the hallway directly in front of the alleged target’s apartment, which was heavily damaged, with seven other units being affected by smoke and water damage. According to court documents, Johnson was able to get into the building through a propped-open entry door.  

A woman and her child — roommates of Johnson’s alleged target — escaped from the affected unit, and another resident was rescued from a balcony. 

According to St. Anthony Fire Chief Mark Sitarz, there were no reported injuries to residents or emergency personnel. The Columbia Heights, Fridley, New Brighton, Roseville and Lake Johanna fire departments all provided assistance.

The fire appeared suspicious to officials at the time, and an investigation led to Johnson’s arrest July 9 by the St. Anthony Police Department, according to police.

Police say that Johnson — who has two prior felony convictions — allegedly admitted to setting the hallway’s carpet ablaze using lighter fluid, but said she did not think anyone was in the targeted unit at the time. 

In addition to first-degree arson, Johnson has been charged with first-degree burglary for allegedly entering the apartment complex without the owner’s consent and with criminal intent. The maximum sentence for each charge is 20 years. 

According to Sitarz, there is not yet an official estimate on the cost to fix the property damage at Equinox Apartments. In an interview, he said the targeted unit will have to be completely redone and its residents have not been able to return to living there.

Johnson will appear in Ramsey County District Court on July 25. 

 

–Bridget Kranz can be reached at bkranz@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

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