Port Angeles woman charged with setting fire to her apartment

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles woman who allegedly set fire to the Serenity House of Clallam County apartment she lived in has been charged with first-degree arson.

Denise K. Kovacevic, 40, was charged Wednesday and will undergo a mental health evaluation that will determine her competency, Clallam County Superior Court papers said.

Port Angeles police said Kovacevic used a lighter to set fire to a mattress in her living room last Friday morning.

No one was injured in the fire at Evergreen Family Village fourplex. Serenity House officials said the fire destroyed two units and damaged a third, leaving three families homeless.

Witnesses told police that Kovacevic had been acting erratically in the week leading up to the fire, according to the affidavit for probable cause.

Police said that Kovacevic suffered a traumatic brain injury in the past and that her symptoms had escalated since she stopped taking her medication, court papers said.

The Port Angeles Fire Department arrived at the fire at 9:10 a.m. and declared it under control at 9:28 a.m. Friday. An automatic sprinkler system in the building had activated.

Kovacevic was found in a family member’s home at about noon Friday, police said.

Kovacevic allegedly admitted to starting the fire, officer Erik Smith wrote in his arrest report.

“She confirmed she did this in the living room that morning with a black lighter,” Smith wrote.

“Before leaving the area, she saw someone checking on her apartment. She remarked that when she looked at (her unit), the smoke was grey and what she observed was ‘like a cute postcard, almost.’”

Kovacevic remained in the Clallam County jail on $50,000 bond Thursday.

Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols had requested a $250,000 bail for Kovacevic at her initial court appearance Monday based on community safety concerns.

A review hearing is set for April 12.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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