Search continues for arsonist who doused Saginaw woman with gas

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by CYNTHIA VEGA & MARCUS MOORE

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WFAA

Posted on February 22, 2012 at 3:01 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 22 at 2:24 PM

Sisters Antique Mall

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SAGINAW — The search continues for an arsonist who doused a woman with gasoline and burned down a Saginaw business Tuesday night.

Deborah Scott was able to escape the blaze at the 6,000-square-foot Sisters Antique Mall and Tea Room in Saginaw, open for less than one year. The business, which is owned by Scott and her sister Joyce Erwin, is considered a total loss after the attack.

By the time firefighters arrived at the building at 128 North Saginaw Boulevard, they say flames had already engulfed the interior.

Scott was taken to a hospital for minor burn injuries. Authorities said she is assisting them with details of the crime and a description of the suspect, who she said she does not personally know. Witnesses said the man had come into the business on the day of the attack and became argumentative with the co-owner, later dousing her with gasoline and torching the place.

Saginaw fire investigators and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were at the scene, looking for clues.

Photos taken by witnesses show smoke billowing into the air, catching Ron Alford, who operates a neighboring furniture store, by surprise.

"All of a sudden I heard a pop from inside my store, and I smelled burning fire, just a burning smell," he said.

That smell was coming from the blaze set by a man who, police say, walked into the Sisters Antique Mall and doused the business with gasoline before spraying fuel on a woman and setting the place on fire.

"Every day you hear about people being crazy doing stuff like that," Alford said. "I don't know how you wrap your hands around it."

The suspect ran off and has not been seen since.

Authorities say one problem in their case is the actual number of witnesses, which they say are in the dozens and giving conflicting descriptions of the man.

"I would say that it definitely puts us all on edge because the majority of business owners on this street know each other personally," said one merchant. "We've all built each other up, so to know that this is her first year and this happened to her? It's a little scary."

Scott and Erwin moved to Saginaw with their families in 1987 and are active members of the community, opening their business with the desire to make a difference in their "sleepy town."

E-mail mmoore@wfaa.com

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