73-Year-Old Alexandria Woman Says She Set 25 Fires in Own Building

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Northern Virginia Bureau chief Julie Carey reports on the arrest of woman accused of setting fires in her Alexandria apartment building. (Published Thursday, Mar 20, 2014)

    A 73-year-old Alexandria woman is behind bars for setting two dozen fires in her high-rise building during the past year.

     Fire investigators say Shirley Ann Vigneau admitted to setting 25 fires in the Southern Towers apartment complex on Seminary Road, where she has lived for 35 years.

    Alexandria fire officials worked with investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to find out who began setting the blazes last May in the Stratford Building.

    They say video surveillance caught Vigneau entering and leaving an area where the last fire was set yesterday. She was arrested soon after.

    "Currently her motives are uncertain," said Thomas Faison, an ATF Senior Special agent. "She apparently derived something from these fires but as far as we know there was no economic or idealogical aspect to it."

    The fires were usually set overnight in trash areas, hallways and even elevators.

    "Somebody would light up the fire in the carpet in the middle of the hallway so it could have literally burned down the whole building," one resident told News4. "That scared me because it was near my apartment."

    Vigneau, a retiree, allegedly set the final fire on the 7th floor where she lives. Investigators say they were surprised their suspect turned out to be a woman.

    "That's very unusual. Normally you don't' have females in general that are arsonists," explained Alexandria Assistant Fire Chief Rudy Thomas.

    Vigneau is being held without bond at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center. If convicted, she faces at least five years in prison.