Woman charged with arson after Camden fire that displaced 22 people

The fire on Mother’s Day was caused by a “crime of passion and emotions,” police said
Officials investigated an early morning fire on Mother's Day at the Myrtle Place Apartments in Camden. More than 20 people escaped safely.
Officials investigated an early morning fire on Mother's Day at the Myrtle Place Apartments in Camden. More than 20 people escaped safely. Photo credit John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A South Jersey woman has been arrested and charged with arson in the Mother's Day fire that left more than 20 Camden residents without a home.

Camden County Police said Nakyah Barnes-Nelson, 20, caused the fire at the Myrtle Place Apartments where she was living, following a domestic dispute in which she was the victim.

Capt. Janell Simpson says she used perfume to ignite the flames.

“It basically was out of a crime of passion and emotions at that time that led to the victim burning clothing of someone else,” said Simpson.

She said that from there, the fire spread from the balcony to the roof of the two-story building, sending residents running.

No one was injured, but 22 people were displaced. Officials said several families lost everything in the fire.

Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen said the city is now working to help those who have been displaced.

“This is truly an unfortunate situation,” said Carstarphen.

“So many people have been displaced from homes that they will never be able to go back to. We as a city are working around the clock to work and provide a new residency.”

Police said they are also looking for a person of interest in the fire.

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