Kenosha arsons, gas station fire, woman charged

A Kenosha woman is charged in connection with a string of arson incidents in late July. Prosecutors say one of the fires happened at a gas station. Some connected to the gas station said they're grateful for a good Samaritan who happened to be driving by and was able to help extinguish the fire.

"Who would light a gas station on fire?" said John Pallamolla.

Pallamolla said he is friends with employees of the Gulf Gas Station in Kenosha. He said a garbage can near a fuel pump was set on fire on July 25, and said this was a recipe for disaster.

"If something would’ve been off, this block wouldn’t be here," said Pallamolla.

He said a good Samaritan happened to be at the right place at the right time.

"A cab driver named Christopher," said Pallamolla. "He happened to be driving by, grab the fire extinguisher and put out the flame."

The gas station near 52nd Street and 30th Avenue is adjacent to several homes. It is also one of three places set ablaze that night. The other two were a dumpster outside Tenutas Deli and the side of a residential structure near 18th Avenue and 50th Street.  

"People don’t understand the safety that is involved with a gas station," said Pallamolla.

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Authorities released an image of the suspect on Facebook, and it did not take long for the suspect’s acquaintances and members of her own family to reach out and identify her as 37-year-old Maria Vilchez Bucio. She faces three counts of arson and four counts of felony bail jumping for a prior child abuse charge.

A person close to the suspect told police she suffered from a mental illness and they hoped behind bars she could "get some help."

In the meantime, those FOX6 News spoke with said they're just glad no one was hurt in a situation that could have ended in tragedy.

"He saved a lot of people’s lives," said Pallamolla.

The suspect was ordered to have no contact with all three locations. She is not to possess any accelerants. She will have a competency hearing in late August. For now, cash bond was set at $5,000.

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