Arrest made after woman set fire to Merced apartment complex on Christmas Day

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Several Merced families are without a home Thursday night after a woman set fire to an apartment complex on Christmas Day.

Police say 42-year-old Kristi Shepherd started the fire intentionally.

Smoke billows into the sky and flames shoot of a window at the Swiss Colony Apartment Complex in Merced.

"Smoke everywhere, flames coming out of the building," said Merced Police Department Sergeant Emily Foster.

Police say 42-year-old Kristi Shepherd started the fire on purpose, damaging five apartments and leaving 10 people without a home on Christmas.

"We don't like to see any family displaced, but Christmas makes it even harder," said Foster.

One of those units belonged to Brianna Moreno and Enrique Mendoza. They were in the Bay area with family when it happened. They were opening presents when they received the call.

"Literally right after we got that call we just started packing up and telling family we have to go. They asked what was going on and I said, our apartment complex is on fire," said Moreno.

According to detectives, Shepherd started the fire in an empty unit. The flames didn't spread, but smoke seeped into other apartments.

"It wasn't too bad in ours. We had the ceilings ripped off in the bathroom and all that. The whole house smells like smoke, real bad," said Mendoza.

Moreno says she's had a recent run-in with Shepherd. She claims Shepherd assaulted her a week ago.

"She punched me on the right side of my face," said Moreno.

According to Moreno, Shepherd was arrested and she believes that motivated her.

"Retaliation for calling the police I guess you could say," said Moreno.

Now Moreno and Mendoza don't have a home as their apartment was condemned.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.