AUSTIN (KXAN) – New details have been released in court documents unveiling a possible motive for the east Austin arson Sunday morning that displaced the two families that resided there.
Olga Guzman-Calderon, the 55-year-old sister of one of the duplex residents, faces an arson charge, a first-degree felony. She has been arrested and is in custody, according to an affidavit.
Two families were displaced after the 8 a.m. fire at 6704 Aries Lane: the family of Guzman-Calderon and the family adjacent to them. The other family said they did not know Guzman-Calderon; they had only seen her visiting a few times.
Damages from the fire were estimated at $455,500. There were at least six people in the duplex during the fire. Two of them suffered first and second-degree burns and were taken to the hospital, according to the affidavit.
When officials arrived at the scene, they were informed that Guzman-Calderon was seen fleeing the area immediately after the fire.
Earlier that morning, officials say that Guzman-Calderon made threats toward her sister and brother-in-law. She threatened to burn down their house or cause an explosion, the affidavit said.
Guzman-Calderon’s family told the investigators she was a transient family member and it was agreed among the family that they would let her temporarily stay at the duplex. She was allowed to sleep on a sofa in the carport area.
After multiple disputes with Guzman-Calderon during her month-long stay, her sister and brother-in-law asked her to pack her things and leave, according to an affidavit.
This angered Guzman-Calderon and she began to make the arson threats against the family, the affidavit said. She also stated that on the Fourth of July, she was “going to bring over a big surprise,” and then she made a display of explosive noises and gestures to follow, the affidavit continued.
Guzman-Calderon’s family said they saw her leave around 7:30 a.m. on the morning of the fire and walk towards the bus stop. Three of her sister’s children — ages 13, 16 and 29 — were asleep in the duplex at the time, the affidavit said.
One of the children woke up and alerted his siblings to the fire, the affidavit said. One of the children recalled the flames being “as tall as the house.” All were able to get out, but two were hurt. Around 8 a.m., one of them called family and told them he saw Guzman-Calderon return to the duplex and set it on fire.
While the children were speaking to the investigators, officials say that Calderon-Guzman was found near Cameron Road and St. Johns Road and was taken into custody.
Guzman-Calderon told the officials that she “did not know what happened and did not understand why she has been placed into handcuffs,” the affidavit said. She continued to deny she was at the duplex at the time the fire started, saying she instead took a bus to a local convenience store. Surveillance video shows she was at the store at 7:51 a.m. and then back at the carport area of the duplex at 8:02 a.m., officials say.
Court documents say that approximately two minutes after Guzman-Calderon left the duplex again, the carport area she was in erupted into flames and then reached the interior of the building.
Guzman-Calderon is currently being held at the Travis County Jail and her bail is set at $75,000. She is not supposed to contact the alleged victims.
The duplex is destroyed, a guinea pig was lost in the fire and two families consisting of four adults and five children have been displaced. The American Red Cross is helping them.
The Guzman family, one of the two families displaced by this fire, said they are looking for help finding a long-term place to stay. If you can assist them call (512) 657-6046.