Saturday, June 23, 2018
Public safety

Police say St. Petersburg woman fought with boyfriend before setting apartment on fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Before firefighters got a call about a blaze at the Yankee Apartments on Sunday morning, police officers were sent there to handle a domestic dispute.

Officers found 47-year-old Paula J. Ayers, from Unit 10, fighting with her live-in boyfriend, police said. Ayers, police said, was breaking glass and throwing things.

"They talked to her," police spokesman Mike Puetz said. "She calmed down."

Sometime later, authorities were called back to the complex at 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N for a fire that began in Unit 10 and spread to the attic.

Everyone in the complex was evacuated, but no injuries were reported.

Police said Ayers, who also goes by the name Paula Harding, was found hiding nearby.

She told several stories about how the fire started, Puetz said, including a final one about throwing a cushion on the stove because she was cold.

Police have charged her with arson. She was in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail Monday.

The Red Cross is assisting the other residents, nine men and two women.

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