Oct. 04--NEWBURYPORT -- A Woodman Way resident faces numerous charges after accidentally setting fire to her apartment Wednesday night but then refusing to allow firefighters to respond, according to police.
Sandra J. Christopher, 40, of 14 Woodman Way, No. 13, was arraigned yesterday at Newburyport District Court on charges of felony interfering with a firefighter, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault and battery of a public employee. Judge Peter Doyle released her on personal recognizance and she is due back in court on Oct. 22 for a pretrial hearing.
According to the report of Newburyport police officer Kevin Martin, Christopher slammed fire Lt. Stephen Hamilton's hand in the door frame with her front door as he attempted to gain entry. By the time firefighters responded to a reported fire inside her apartment around 9:15 p.m., smoke had filled the second floor of her building and was spreading to more floors.
Fourteen Woodman Way is a multi-unit apartment complex located off Storey Avenue near Interstate 95.
When Hamilton demanded entry, Christopher swore at him and said he had no right to enter. When he tried to gain entry anyway, she opened the door enough to allow his hand to slip between the door frame only for her to then slam the door on him, according to Martin's report. Hamilton was back on duty yesterday.
Eventually, Martin forced the door open with his body, allowing firefighters to gain access. Firefighters quickly determined there had been a small fire in the bathroom but that it had been extinguished.
According to Martin's report, Christopher told police that she had wrapped a blanket around her body but that a candle she placed on top of her toilet ignited the blanket as she passed by. Christopher tossed the blanket into her bathtub and was able to put out the fire. But by that time, smoke had billowed out of her apartment and into the hallway. The bathtub was damaged and walls surrounding it scorched.
Christopher continued to be combative, prompting Martin to arrest her for disorderly conduct. When she resisted his attempts to place handcuffs on her, he charged her with resisting arrest. Placed inside his cruiser, Christopher began kicking and screaming. Assisting Martin was police officer Michael Wilichoski.
"It was very clear to me that the subject was not in her right mind during this event," Martin wrote.
Following a search of her unit, officers were forced to close and condemn the apartment due to deplorable conditions.
Copyright 2013 - The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.