LETHBRIDGE: One of the women charged in the Van Haarlem Apartment building fire was handed a sentence of more than three years Thursday.
On February 1st, fire crews were called to the building in the 1200-block of 7th Avenue South, which was being used as a rooming house. An upper floor fire along with a basement fire caused significant damage and the building had to be completely torn down.
A short time later 40-year old Crystal Joyce Mills of Standoff and 25-year old Sheila May Crow-Eagle of Lethbridge were both arrested and charged.
In court Thursday morning, Mills admitted that during an argument with a resident of the building, she threatened to burn the building down with everyone in it.
At 4 o'clock the next morning she and another person went into the structure and started three small fires, before going outside to watch. Mills acknowledged that they had both been drinking at the time. A smoke detector woke one of the residents, who quickly extinguished the fires and went back to bed.
Mills and the other individual went back in at 5:30 that morning and started two more fires in the basement, and once again went outside to watch it burn. Again the smoke detector woke the same person who, after seeing the size of the blaze, started evacuating the building.
While a total of 25 people were living in the building at the time, fortunately only one person was injured. A man broke a femur after jumping from a window to escape the fire.
Mills was handed a three-year sentence for arson, plus three-months on a previous public mischief charge. She was credited for 30-days in pre-trial custody, which means a total of 38-months in prison.
Co-accused, Sheila Crow Eagle, had her case set over to next week.