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Woman accused of arson over fire sparked by cigar in Spring Valley

sheriff patrol car
Posted at 12:58 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 16:11:31-04

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. (KGTV) — A 76-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of intentionally sparking a fire that damaged a portion of an East County strip mall.

San Diego Sheriff's deputies were called to a Spring Valley strip mall in the 500 block of Grand Ave. on Tuesday at about 8 p.m. over reports of a possible structure fire.

When deputies and fire crews arrived, a woman was found nearby and determined to be a suspect. The woman, identified as Leona Head, is a transient in the Spring Valley area, deputies say.

Deputies say Head admitted to starting the fire by trying to extinguish a lit cigar with a bottle of liquid labeled "Clorox." The liquid appeared to be a flammable substance and spread the fire to an electrical box adjacent to a strip mall.

The fire spread to the roof of the strip mall before crews with San Miguel and Bonita Sunnyside fire departments were able to put out the fire.

The fire damaged the exterior of the building and the electrical box. No injuries were reported.

Deputies say Head admitted to setting two other fires ruled as accidental. She was booked into Las Colinas Detention Facility for arson.