Woman allegedly set occupied home on fire, watched it burn from lawn chair

A lawn chair sits in front of a burning home in Elkton, Md., on April 29, 2021. Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal/Facebook

A Maryland woman is facing a slew of charges, including attempted murder, after she allegedly trapped someone in her home, set it on fire and then sat on the front lawn to watch it burn.

The incident happened on the afternoon of April 21 in Elkton, Md., according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office. The suspect was arguing with another woman and a man before the fire, according to a witness video reviewed by NBC News.

Gail J. Metwally, 47, has been charged with first- and second-degree attempted murder, first-degree arson, first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree malicious burning, two counts of malicious destruction of property and two counts of reckless endangerment, the fire marshal said.

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Gail J. Metwally, 47, is shown in this mugshot photo from April 2021. Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal/Facebook

Witnesses say they saw Metwally setting multiple fires inside her home, then pulling up a chair to watch the flames from the lawn. One Snapchat video shows her reading a book during the fire, NBC News reports.

“The 911 caller stated that she actually went inside the house, set multiple items, multiple fires inside the house. She then exited the house and proceeded to sit on a lawn chair where she actually watched the fire spread throughout the house,” Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire told local broadcaster WMAR.

Metwally walked away a few minutes after the home was engulfed in flames, authorities said.

Bystanders heard another woman calling for help from the basement of the burning home, so they rushed in and helped her escape through a window, the fire marshal said.

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The victim has since been identified by local media as Blenda Holbrook, 52.

“She almost burned to death in that house,” her brother told WMAR. “I’m just really thankful to the two guys that helped her out of that basement, because I don’t think she’d be here today if they hadn’t helped her.”

Firefighters and police showed up a short time later. Metwally was arrested near the scene.

The fire marshal concluded that the cause of the fire was arson.

Authorities say Metwally was one of four people living at the home. The victim, who was trapped in the basement during the blaze, was also a resident.

The other two residents were not home at the time.

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