Suspect arrested during fire at old Sears building said incident was ‘chemical warfare’

Salt Lake City fire fighters knocked down a fire on State Street between 700 and 800 South on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. Photo: Salt Lake City Police Department

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Nov. 9, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A woman arrested during a fire at the old Sears building in downtown Salt Lake City Monday night said the incident was “chemical warfare.”

A probable cause statement from the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake County said Mary Joyce Lacey, 38, is facing a charge of arson, property of another exceeds $5,000 in value, a second-degree felony.

A motorist driving by vacant Sears store on State Street between 700 and 800 South at approximately 11:25 p.m. reported the north doors of the building were on fire. The arresting officer was driving by Sears when he heard the call and “observed the boarded up north doors engulfed in flames,” the statement said.

“I observed a transient sitting on the cement next to the doors that were on fire,” the statement said. “The A/P (accused person) was just looking at the fire. I grabbed the A/P and pulled her away from the fire. I then asked her if she lit the fire. She said ‘yes.’ I asked her how and she replied ‘with a lighter.’ I asked her why and she replied ‘chemical warfare.'”

Crews had to break down both sets of doors to stop the fire and there was damage to the water system in the building. Damage was estimated at more than $5,000, according to the fire investigator.

The arresting officer read the suspect, subsequently identified as Lacey, her Miranda rights. She said she wished to speak to an attorney.

On Sept. 17, Lacey was arrested in a separate aggravated arson case.

“With a previous history of arson, it is certainly possible that she might continue with lighting fires,” the statement said.

Lacey was transported to Salt Lake County Jail, where she is being held without bail.


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