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Published September 21st, 2016
Arson Suspect Charged in Betty Lane Fire
Firefighters put out the Sept. 9 Betty Lane fire in Lafayette. Photo courtesy ConFire

The Contra Costa County district attorney charged a Lafayette resident with arson and attempted murder after a fire leveled a home in the 3300 block of Betty Lane, injured several of the occupants and sent one elderly resident to the hospital. Multiple units of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and the Moraga-Orinda Fire District controlled the Sept. 9 blaze and safely evacuated all of the occupants.
Fire and police investigators determined that the fire had been intentionally set by Lisa Stevens, 53, who had been fighting with another one of the home occupants. "She has had contact with the police in the past," said Lafayette Chief of Police Eric Christensen. He indicated that the feud was likely the result of a domestic dispute.
According to the investigators, Stevens tried to break into a locked room that housed an occupant and failing that, she splashed the door with a flammable liquid and lit the door on fire. The fire quickly spread to the entire home. "The second floor collapsed onto the first," Christensen said.
"I was at Safeway, and I saw smoke in the hills, in the direction of my street," said Betty Lane resident Dorothy Slauson. "Oh no, I thought, and I became real worried about my neighbor." Crews extinguished the fire in 30 minutes and it did not spread to any of the nearby homes.
In addition to arson and attempted murder, the district attorney charged Stevens with false imprisonment, elder abuse and animal cruelty. Two dogs lived inside the home at the time of the fire, Christensen said, but one is still missing and is presumed dead.
Stevens is being held in the Martinez Detention Facility and her bail was set at $1.9 million.
ConFire representatives contacted the Red Cross, which provided emergency shelter plus food and clothing vouchers for the displaced Betty Lane residents.

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