A suspect in the July 22 fire that temporarily closed the Decatur Walmart Supercenter admitted using a lighter to start the blaze, police said in court records.
Sarah Faye Polston, 18, 939 Spring Court S.W., Decatur, was charged Thursday with first-degree arson and was in Morgan County Jail on Friday afternoon with bail set at $30,000. First-degree arson is a Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison.
One person was treated for possible smoke inhalation after the fire at the store on 2800 Spring Ave. S.W., Decatur fire department officials said.
In an affidavit filed in Morgan County District Court on Thursday, Police Detective Sean Mukaddam said he reviewed video surveillance at the store and located two females on the store aisle prior to the fire. Detectives were able to identify the females and obtain statements from them, he wrote.
“During a post-Miranda warning interview, Polston admitted using a lighter on the aisle and her hand being close to an object that lit. The second female provided a statement that Polston intentionally lit an object on fire. The two left the store after the incident,” according to the affidavit.
Jail records show Polston was processed into jail at 5:41 p.m. Thursday.
Polston’s home address listed on the police report is less than a half-mile from the store.
Polston filed an affidavit of substantial financial hardship, and Decatur attorney Dwight Jett was appointed to represent her. Jett could not be reached for comment. No preliminary hearing has been set for Polston, according to court records.
Decatur Fire & Rescue investigated the fire, which started about 12:35 p.m. July 22, determined it was intentionally set and deemed it arson.
“The fire was confined to a housewares section and was extinguished by store personnel,” Decatur Fire Marshal Jason Jones said on the day of the fire. “The store was evacuated and Decatur Fire personnel ensured the fire was out upon their arrival.”
The blaze closed the store or portions of the store for at least two days.
Decatur police spokeswoman Emily Long said in a text message that the department is “thankful for the assistance from the public and the cooperation of Walmart in the resolution of this case.”
She said a person of interest in the investigation who was shown in video the department distributed Monday “was identified and ruled out as a suspect.”
Long said the police don’t expect any more arrests in the case.
“We appreciate the Decatur Police Department’s work and are happy to hear it resulted in an arrest," Casey Staheil, Walmart corporate spokesman, said Friday afternoon.