TAYLORSVILLE — A Taylorsville woman is facing a felony arson charge after police say she set her own apartment on fire and sat in her car outside while the building burned.
Katia Correa Porto, 55, was charged Friday with aggravated arson, a first-degree felony, and criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor.
Fire crews were called to Lincoln Park Apartments, 4231 S. Atherton Dr., about 6:45 a.m. on Aug. 11. A neighbor in the apartment above Porto’s had smelled smoke and gone downstairs to investigate, finding “a wall of black smoke and heat” when he opened the door of Porto’s apartment, according to charging documents.
The neighbor began to alert the other building tenants of the fire, as no fire alarms had gone off, an investigator with Unified Fire Authority wrote in a probable cause statement. Porto’s apartment was on the first floor of a two-story, 16-unit apartment building.
Another woman, who said she woke up to a neighbor banging on her door to tell her there was a fire, told investigators she saw Porto sitting outside in her car while she was waiting for the fire department, charging documents say. The neighbor said that when she told Porto about the fire, Porto “responded with a shoulder shrug.”
A police officer found Porto in her car, still sitting in front of the building, with a briefcase containing her birth certificate, passport and financial documents, according to the charges.
As she was being taken to jail, the investigator wrote, Porto “spontaneously uttered” to a police officer and the fire investigator, “I set those fires.”
The fire investigator determined that the blaze was started by six separate pieces of paper that had been set on fire around the apartment The hard-wired smoke detector in Porto’s apartment had been ripped down, the charges state, and the wires were stripped, causing the building-wide fire system to malfunction.
The fire caused an estimated $150,000 in damage to the apartment complex and $45,000 in damage to Porto’s unit specifically.