EDWARDSVILLE — A nursing home occupant was charged with arson Thursday after she admitted setting a fire because she was upset at treatment by staff members, police said.
Linda J. Braun, 67, was charged in Madison County Circuit Court with aggravated arson in the Wednesday night fire at Hitz Memorial Home, 201 Belle Street, Alhambra.
According to a Madison County Sheriff’s Office press release, the Alhambra Fire Department was dispatched at approximately 9 p.m. to a fire at the nursing home. The fire was contained to two inner rooms within the nursing home and was extinguished by the facility’s fire sprinkler system. The damage to the two rooms affected by the fire was extensive. In addition to the damage caused by the fire, 13 additional rooms within the nursing home, including a common room, offices, and patient rooms, suffered smoke and water damage.
Ten nursing home patients were displaced from their rooms. The nursing home has made accommodations for patients whose rooms were affected by the event and is diligently working to recover from the incident. One employee of the nursing home suffered minor smoke inhalation while clearing patients from the affected area. The female employee was treated and released from the scene by first responders and is expected to make a full recovery.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Illinois State Police received a call from a resident of the independent living portion of the nursing home. She reported that she had started the fire and was identified as Braun. Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and met with fire department personnel, as well as staff members of Hitz Memorial Home who had already spoken with Braun. Staff members told the responding deputies that Braun confessed to having deliberately started the fire.
Deputies met with Braun and developed probable cause for her arrest. Braun told deputies she started the fire because she was angry over staff members trying to boss her around. Braun told the investigating deputy she started the fire in an empty room and didn’t intend to hurt anyone. Braun was transported to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and was further interviewed and transferred to the Madison County Jail, where she was held pending a formal review of facts by the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Although Braun is an occupant of the independent living section of the facility, the fire was set in the nursing home. The independent living section of the facility was not affected by the fire, and no occupants of either portion of the facility were injured as a result of this incident. It is too early to provide an estimated cost of repairs, but it is expected to be substantial.
The warrant and criminal information was issued by Judge Richard Tognarelli, who set Braun’s bond at $250,000.
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