PINELLAS PARK — A woman whose behavior prompted a call to police early Monday morning set fire to a couch in front of arriving officers, leading to a blaze that damaged several Pinellas Park apartments, police said.
The strange incident was reported before 2 a.m. at 7685 40th St. N, according to police reports. A caller to 911 reported that a woman was destroying the inside of an apartment at that address.
Officers arrived at the four-unit apartment complex, where they were told that the woman, Barbie Ann Winstead, was in one of the bedrooms, police said. Inside, they told Winstead to come toward them several times before she walked out of the bedroom and tried to move past the officers, police said.
As the officers stopped and detained her, they noticed smoke coming from inside the room, police said. A couch erupted in flames. Officers tried to stop the flames from spreading, but soon the fire raged out of control.
Winstead, 44, was arrested as firefighters were called. She was later booked in the Pinellas County Jail on charges on a charge of first degree arson and failure to appear in court for a previous charge of battery on a law enforcement officer.
Records show Winstead was arrested four times within the last year in Pinellas County on charges that included multiple counts of assault and battery on law enforcement officers. She was released from state prison in 2012 following after a yearlong sentence for grand theft and multiple convictions of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence, according to the Department of Corrections.
She was held in jail Monday in lieu of $80,013 bail.
Crews were able to extinguish the blaze, but the resulting smoke left all four apartments uninhabitable, police said. The Red Cross was helping residents find temporary shelter.