Woman accused of setting apartments on fire in NE Harris County

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Esma Rakic, who was charged with arson and aggravated assault Tuesday, made her first court appearance Wednesday morning. Her bond was set at $60,000.

Her neighbors said Tuesday she ran around the Forest Pines Apartments, on Wood Forest Boulevard in Cloverleaf in northeast Harris County, setting apartments on fire.

"She set her apartment on fire then walked around banging on everyone's window telling us there was a fire," Erica Richardson, a witness, said. "So when we came out, my husband came around the corner and when we walked around, we seen her trying to dash one of our neighbors with gasoline, and she was trying to light him on fire. So they tackled her and put her in cuffs.”

Smoke and flames shot out of the windows and roof of the apartment building. The fire damaged or destroyed eight apartments and left 20 people out of their homes.

Residents said there would have been more damage if Joshua Richardson had not rushed into action.

"Being a security guard, the first thing in my instinct was to tackle, put the handcuffs on her and wait for police to get here," Richardson said.

An arson dog checked out the scene as Cloverleaf firefighters removed the burned furniture and appliances from what neighbors described as the suspect’s apartment Tuesday afternoon.