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Police: Durham apartment fire set by ex-girlfriend

Posted September 4, 2012
Updated September 5, 2012

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— The woman charged with setting an apartment fire in Durham Friday was the ex-girlfriend of a resident, police said. Ricela Salom Rebollar-Valdez, 21, of 7969 Troxler Mill Road in Gibsonville, faces charges of arson and breaking and entering. Police say she set the fire that damaged 18 units at Springfield Apartments and put 34 people out of their homes.

Rebollar-Valdez was being held without bond Tuesday in Guilford County and could face additional charges after fire investigators consult with the Durham district attorney.

Emanuel Kearney, who lives in the apartment across from where the fire started, said he didn't know the man who lived in Apt. 404, but he recognized Rebollar-Valdez.

"I would see her. I can't ever recall seeing them together," he said. "I know there was some friction there and they had a history."

Ricela Salom Rebollar-Valdez Police: Alleged arsonist was no stranger to apartment building

Durham police had been called to that apartment five times in the six weeks before the fire.

Another resident, Eric Wyrick, told WRAL News that he saw Rebollar-Valdez at the building before the fire. She rushed by, not stopping to talk as she usually would, Wyrick said.

Wyrick was present when the fire started, and firefighters credit him with warning many of the residents as the fire spread. He voiced his suspicions Friday to WRAL News.

"It ran across the floor, you could see it shoot across the floor, you know, not like it normally would burn, but like something had been poured," he said.

Kearney said he'd like to talk to Rebollar-Valdez now. "I was shocked by that, saddened, confused, and I'd like to ask her, 'Why? Why do that, ya know?'"

The Red Cross was helping those lost their homes find food, temporary shelter and clothing. 

16 Comments

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  • ifcdirector Sep 5, 2012

    She is just setting the fires that Americans don't want to set.

  • shortcake53 Sep 5, 2012

    Thanks for the info gingelynn.

  • CamelWolfCat Sep 5, 2012

    The old adage holds water, it would seem: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"

    Heartless that she would seem to have included in the scorn a lot of innocent bystanders

  • pedsRN Sep 5, 2012

    What a thoughtless, heartless woman!! She should be charged with attempted murder. I wonder if the ex-boyfriend was even at home when she attacked.

  • not my real name Sep 5, 2012

    I wonder if she ever thought about how many people could die in a fire like that? Not likely I would say. What a selfish thoughtless thing to do. Let her rot right where she sits.

  • gingerlynn Sep 5, 2012

    Shortcake 53 - I took clothes, linens, pet supplies and toys on Monday. Spent the weekend cleaning college kids closets out! You can drop them 9am-6pm at the leasing office 4600 University Drive Durham. They also need nonperishable food.

  • RAA0013 Sep 5, 2012

    miseem - back off the Obama kool-aid man and get some help for your paranoia! No one is saying anything about Obama or illegal status other than one person saying if she is illegal the feds are negligent. And that's true.
    I feel bad for all the residents of the apartments who did nothing to deserve all this.

  • miseem Sep 4, 2012

    So far, no one making these comments knows whether she's illgal or not. However, it's obviously Obama's fault and according to one poster, a lot of attorneys are ready and willing to take him to court. Funny how nothing has been filed in other cases where a "documented" undocumented alien has injured property or another person. Seems like if it was so cut and dried, we'd be seeing thousands of cases against the federal government.

  • timmystrickland402 Sep 4, 2012

    she should be charged with attemted murder as well since people was still in those apartments. they could have been killed.

  • DurhamDevil Sep 4, 2012

    Careful, dehowell2. Fools come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and ethnicities. Clearly this woman has some serious issues but its not because of any of the traits aforementioned.

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