A January fire on Royal Lane in Front Royal that killed a woman has been ruled an arson.

Warren County Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico stated in an emaile that the Jan. 30 fire at the Royal Hills Apartments was started by the apartment's sole occupant, Jennifer Roberts.

Maiatico stated that investigators determined that Roberts, 51, set the fire in her third-floor apartment in an attempt to damage the apartment from which she was to be evicted from the next day.

“Investigators were not able to eliminate the act of suicide,” Maiatico stated in the release.

The Warren County Fire Department and the Front Royal Police Department conducted a  joint investigation into the cause of the fire.

The fire caused significant damage to the 10-unit apartment building and several firefighters suffered minor injuries, according to the release. During the fire, a firefighter fell through the floor. He was treated for minor burn injuries and returned to work, as previously reported.

The fire was estimated to have caused $500,000 in damages.

The Virginia Office of the Medical Examiner determined that Roberts died of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, the release states.

A February affidavit for a search warrant revealed that Roberts had been at the Warren Memorial Hospital within two days before the fire and had complained of “toxins or sedating substances coming from her heat vent.” 

Fire and rescue units followed up her complaint, went to her apartment to investigate and found “normal conditions” and no safety hazards to the apartment, Maiatico said.

Contact Melissa Topey at mtopey@nvdaily.com