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Tommie Ragsdale: Loneliness Compels East Texas Woman to Set Five Fires

Last week, Tommie Slaughter Ragsdale's life was pretty gosh-darned exciting. The 46-year-old Trinity woman was working in a command center as firefighters in Trinity County battled a huge inferno in the drought-stricken area.

Once that blaze was extinguished, it evidently left a smoldering void in Ragsdale's soul. Her life went back to the same ol' rural East Texas same ol'. What's a gal to do? Play Farmville obsessively? Knit? Watch a Ma's Roadhouse marathon? Post cutesy-pie videos on your Facebook page? (It looks like Ragsdale tried that. Maybe she didn't get as many comments as she needed.)

Evidently, none of that could cure what was ailing Ragsdale.

According to authorities, she set not one, not two, not three or even four wildfires. Nope, Ragsdale reportedly confessed to setting five fires on Sunday morning and then called (or helped call) four of them in herself.

Trinity County Constable Woody Wallace told KTRE that Ragsdale started three fires behind her house by igniting explosively dry pine straw and lit two more along a ruralesque highway by scattering flaming scrap paper from her car. Ragsdale called in one of the road fires herself, and then, perhaps realizing that it would seem suspicious if she reported five more or less scattered blazes to authorities, went to a neighbor's house and told them to call in the three bushfires behind her house. A fireman found the last one before it was called in.

Witnesses saw Ragsdale in the area of one of the fires and reported her to police. Wallace said she seemed nervous when he questioned her on Sunday, so he questioned her again yesterday. That was when Ragsdale confessed, saying she'd been lonely ever since she'd helped put out the huge conflagration the week before.

"She got a lot of excitement from last week and wanted to see that again," Wallace said.

None of the fires got out of control. Ragsdale has been charged with five counts of arson with a total bond of $450,000. Her state criminal record is currently clean.


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