Woman accused of setting Durham fire faces judge

Ricela Salom Rebollar-Valdez (Image courtesy Guilford County Sheriff's Office)

September 5, 2012 10:34:56 AM PDT
The woman accused of starting a massive apartment fire that left dozens without a home went before a Durham County judge Wednesday.

Ricela Rebollar-Valdez showed little emotion as she faced the judge. The 21-year-old is charged with first and second-degree arson as well as breaking and entering.

The charges stem from the fire at the Springfield Apartments on University Drive last Friday.

Officials said at least 18 units were destroyed and more were damaged. In all, 16 families, including 34 people, were displaced as a result of the fire.

Authorities later arrested Rebollar-Valdez on Saturday at her home in Guilford County.

Police said they believed the blaze started in apartment 404. Rolando Benitez, the man who lived in that unit, said he believed his ex-girlfriend set the fire after their recent breakup.

"We broke up about two or three months ago and she wanted to come back. She used to break into my apartment maybe about two or three times until I called the police," Benitez said.

Rebollar-Valdez's family told ABC11 she denied having started the fire.

An attorney representing Rebollar-Valdez in court Wednesday tried to get her bond lowered, saying she has a 14-year-old she cares for in Greensboro, however that was not enough to grant the request. Her bond was set at $300,000.

Rebollar-Valdez is expected to be back in court later this month.

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