Family loses home to fire; arson suspect arrested

A woman from St. Albans faces arson charges after deputies said she started a fire in a car that spread to two homes and several other cars.
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 2:01 AM EDT
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ST. ALBANS, W. Va. (WSAZ/Gray News) - A West Virginia family’s home is nothing but ashes after it caught fire, and investigators say it was no accident.

Deputies and firefighters responded around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday to a fire in St. Albans, West Virginia. They say the Kidd family’s car was first set on fire before quickly spreading to their home, WSAZ reports.

According to Sgt. Josh Lester with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, fire crews saw a “suspicious” woman on scene who didn’t belong there. She was later identified as 54-year-old Donna Lou Hall, who lives in a nearby community.

Deputies say Hall got inside one of the cars at the Kidd family’s home, took belongings and then set the car on fire. In addition to the Kidd family’s home and car, deputies say three other vehicles, another home and an outbuilding caught fire.

Hall allegedly showed signs of impairment when deputies arrested her. She is charged with three counts of first-degree arson and four counts of third-degree arson, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

The Kidd family is not focusing on the suspect, and they were too emotional to appear on camera but did speak to WSAZ about the fire. Their daughter’s senior prom is Saturday, and their other daughter’s wedding is coming up in May. Multiple dresses and decorations were damaged.

The family’s loss is tremendous, but the community is helping any way they can, including donating to a GoFundMe set up to help the Kidds.

Joy Salyards is the owner of Reflections Prom and Pageant, the store where the daughter’s prom dress came from. She says the community has already raised money for a new dress.

“The fact that people got together so quickly, they just touched my heart that they were willing to do this,” Salyards said.

Hall is being held in the South Central Regional Jail on a $10,000 cash bond, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

The cost of property damage from the fire is expected to exceed $319,000, the release said. The investigation is ongoing.