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'Superwoman' Who Saved Son Is Now Accused of Arson

A woman hailed as a “Superwoman” after pulling her son out of their burning home in Washington state nearly one month ago has been charged with arson in the fire, authorities say.

Melinda Sayers of Puyallup was detained Thursday on suspicion of first-degree arson in the April 1 blaze, said Detective Ed Troyer, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman. She was charged on Friday with first-degree arson and presenting false insurance claims.

Sayers is accused of setting the fire to avoid having her 11-month-old daughter, Abigail, who was born prematurely, come home from the hospital because the mom said she had too much going on, Troyer told NBC station KING5 of Seattle and MyNorthwest.com. The girl died the day after the blaze.

"Detectives immediately noticed that the fire was not consistent with the evidence at the scene to be an accident," Troyer said.

Sayers later admitted to opening the oxygen tanks intended for Abigail and lighting a candle to start the fire, Troyer told KIRO Radio's Ron and Don Show.

Sayers and her 2-year-old son, Eli, weren’t injured in the blaze. Her husband isn’t a suspect and didn’t know about his wife’s alleged plan, authorities said.

The family lost everything in the fire. An online fund to help them raised some $32,000. Troyer said the fundraiser appeared to be part of Sayers’ plan to get money after the fire. The investigation has found that she was suspended as a registered nurse in another state for fraud, Troyer told MyNorthwest.com.

— Miranda Leitsinger