- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
State investigators have obtained a first-degree arson charge against the owner of a home destroyed by fire last spring in Leonardtown, filing a charges application that disputes her account of her whereabouts at specific times that morning.
Erica L. Pohnel, 33, also was charged with burning with intent to defraud in connection with the mid-morning fire on April 6 at the three-story residence on Domitilla Court, where more than 30 volunteer firefighters responded to douse the blaze. The state fire marshal’s office initially estimated the loss from the blaze at $300,000.
In an interview after the fire, Pohnel said she left the house before the fire began, and that she was teaching a class at a gym in California when she received a phone call about the blaze, which investigators said was discovered by construction workers.
“It was determined using computer travel-direction programs that Pohnel’s timeline for the trip doubled the actual time required to drive that distance,” deputy state fire marshal Dexter Hodges wrote in the charges application filed last week. “Multiple witnesses stated Pohnel dropped off her children in the daycare center of the gym and left five minutes later. Witnesses stated Pohnel said she had to ‘go home because she forgot something,’...[and later] returned ... and began teaching a fitness class.”