Teen Charged in Fatal Texas Fire

HOUSTON --

A 19-year-old has been arrested and charged with arson in connection with a fatal three-alarm fire, KPRC Local 2 reported Tuesday.

Harris County Arson Investigators arrested Joshua Mims Monday after he confessed to starting the fire at the Timber Run Apartments on Woodforest Boulevard near Rivergrove Drive in northeast Harris County late Sunday.

The fire destroyed 36 apartments and left dozens of families homeless.

"I never had a loss like that, but I've got to start over now," truck driver Charles Randle said. "I just moved in and lost everything. I didn't even get a chance to spend a night in it."

Resident Linnefaye Skinner died in the fire. Her family said she was partially blind and could not move very well.

Skinner made the first 911 call, reporting that she was trapped inside, investigators said.

"To me, she's an angel," said Terra Crooms, Skinner's sister. "She called 911 and saved all these people, but the fire took her life."

The Cloverleaf Fire Department arrived 7 minutes after the 911 call was made. Several other fire departments soon followed to help fight the flames.

Investigators said Mims set apartment 1313 on fire, seeking revenge on a rival gang member.

Arson Investigator Dustin Deutsch said, "(Mims) admitted to breaking into apartment 1313 and setting the apartment on fire because of retaliation. He's a local individual from the area. He has confessed to the fire and it does implicate gang ties and gang connections."

Deutsch said Mims was trying to get revenge against a person who had been evicted on Friday. He said Mims lit set a couch inside the apartment on fire.

The fire caused $1.6 million worth of damage to the complex. The blaze burned for 10 hours before it was completely extinguished.

Mims has been charged with two counts of first-degree felony arson and booked into the Harris County Jail without bond. He was scheduled to appear before a judge Tuesday and be assigned an attorney.

Deutsch said Mims was carrying a loaded .22-caliber gun when he was arrested.

American Red Cross caseworkers went back to the complex Tuesday to help displaced residents.

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