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New Richmond woman charged with arson after Wednesday apartment fire

A New Richmond woman faces arson charges after she allegedly set a fire in her apartment.

St. Croix County prosecutors on Thursday, Aug. 17, charged Koianna J. Kelley, 28, with two counts of felony arson and one count of misdemeanor criminal property damage.

Kelley made her initial court appearance Thursday, where St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman ordered her to post $5,000 cash bond.

According to a criminal complaint:

New Richmond police and firefighters responded at 11:31 p.m. Aug. 16 to 233 Croft St. for a fire alarm. Lights were seen flashing inside the building and people were standing outside it.

The building manager told police there was standing water in the building’s first floor that officers discovered had come down from the second floor.

Officers went to the room above it, where more water was found just outside the door. The officer noted it was the same unit he’d been to earlier in the night for a domestic disturbance.

Kelley, who the officer recognized from previous contacts, opened the door. The officer immediately saw smoke inside the apartment and Kelley said there had been a fire there.

In an interview with police, Kelley said an earlier fight with her boyfriend left her upset to the point that she blacked out. She said she came to, only to find the apartment on fire. She later admitted to starting a fire in the bathroom.

An assessment of the building by firefighters revealed only Kelley’s apartment and the storage room beneath it were directly impacted by the fire.

An inspection of Kelley’s unit turned up a pile of charred clothing in the bathtub that was concealing a bottle. Firefighters and police could not immediately determine the contents of the bottle.

Police then arrested Kelley.

Officers later inspected the clothing pile. Pieces of wood, suspected to be from a guitar, were found mixed in with articles of men’s clothing, along with a balloon that contained a digital memory card. Police reported smelling a distinct odor of alcohol and nail polish remover in the room.

Officers later went on to document the state of the apartment, which was described in the complaint as “disgusting.”

“The smell in the apartment was horrible, a mixture between rotting food, cat litter and smoke/fire,” according to the charging document.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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