W-S Fire Displaces Families; Woman Charged w/ Arson

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Winston-Salem Police Department has arrested a woman in connection with a house fire Monday night that displaced several families.

Police said 41-year-old Teresa Evette Lineberger, who lived in the apartments, is in police custody and charged with one count of first-degree arson and one count of malicious use of explosives to damage property.

The fire happened Monday night, shortly after 11 p.m., at the Plaza Apartments on Thurmond Street.

Police said three people had minor injuries from the fire. Two people went to the hospital, including a firefighter whom police said hurt his hand.

The fire damaged six units in the complex. Police said several families are displaced and being assisted by the American Red Cross.

Several tenants of the apartment complex said they believe the fire could have been prevented, because they had made past complaints about Lineberger's behavior.

"I feel that the whole situation was a travesty. You got people who have been working so hard and for so long to get places to stay. And to be subject possibly to somebody else's shortcomings or inconsistencies or whatever's wrong with them is a travesty," said Jacoby Monroe, who lived in one of the units damaged by the fire.

The Winston-Salem Housing Authority, which is the landlord of the income-based apartment complex, said it had begun an eviction process for Lineberger in June. The Housing Authority said Lineberger has not paid rent recently, and her eviction would have been finalized within the next week.

Monroe said he and other tenants believe this situation could have been prevented, if the Housing Authority would have addressed the complaints sooner.

"Lives could have been lost, and that's the most valuable thing upon this earth, and in order to prevent that, people need to be proactive in their jobs, because I am also a convicted felon. And I go through so much. So many barriers—just myself trying to get housing and trying to do the right thing. Everybody should get screened," he said.

The Housing Authority said it screens all applying tenants and conducts a background check for criminal history and rent history.

The Housing Authority released a statement that reads in part:

We understand that some other tenants living in Plaza Apartments may have some concerns about the tenant that was arrested. As always, management encourages tenants to contact the Winston-Salem Police Department to investigate any suspicious activity or address any neighbors who appear to be disturbing the peace. The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem partners with off-duty Police Officers to patrol the neighborhood on a regular basis (after regular business hours). The officers are always willing to assist our tenants upon their request.

The Winston-Salem Police Department has not responded to WFMY News 2's request for information regarding the tenants' alleged complaints against Lineberger.

This incident is under investigation by the Winston-Salem Police and Fire Departments.

Anyone with any information regarding this incident or similar crimes is asked to call the Winston-Salem Police Department at 336-773-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800.


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