WOONSOCKET â€“ Corinne A. Latraverse, 30, of 26 Monty Ave., set fire to the home she shared with her boyfriend and their three children Saturday because she was enraged over his affair with another woman, police say.
Latraverse was ordered held without bail following her arraignment this morning in Sixth District Court, Providence, on one count of first-degree arson.
The three-alarm fire was reported 1:30 p.m. Saturday after Latraverse allegedly removed her children from the house, doused the back hallway of the three-story with gasoline and set fire to it, investigators said. Her longtime boyfriend was at work.
Latraverse was apparently so close to the gas-fueled, flash fire that it singed her hair, charred her clothing and left her with inhalation burns. She was treated at Rhode Island Hospital before being transferred to the custody of Woonsocket police Saturday evening. The house was destroyed and will probably be quickly razed, said Capt. Michael Morin, deputy state fire marshal for the Woonsocket Fire Department.
One cat perished in the fire the fire and another could not be found.
Two firefighters fell through the floor while fighting the fire and suffered minor injuries.
â€śThe fire was started in the stair tower so naturally it raced right up to the second floor and into the attic,â€ť he said.
The fire broke through the roof, through which engorged clouds of black smoke billowed as the entire structure became dangerously unstable. The residents of a neighboring home deemed to be in the â€ścollapse zoneâ€ť were evacuated.
While Morin said Latraverse appeared to have acted irrationally, he seemed at a loss for words in explaining her motive.
â€śWhat she did has caused her children to be homeless,â€ť he said. â€śIt was just a very dangerous thing to do. Itâ€™s just lucky no one else was living in the house.â€ť
When police arrived, they found Latraverse in the back yard with her three children, ages two, nine and 12, and two dogs. She told Officer Scott Breguet that a â€śwall of flamesâ€ť had come rushing at her when she saw smoke coming out of a back door and opened it.
But Breguet said that soon after a neighbor came over and â€śtold me that they had overheard other neighbors talking about how Corinne had told people on the way out of the house that she had burned the house down with a can of gas.â€ť
Investigators said Latraverse later admitted that she was responsible for setting the house on fire. They said she caught her boyfriend talking to another woman on a cell phone Friday night and the two argued about it for some time afterword.
Detective Sgt. Matt Ryan of the Woonsocket Police Department said it appeared the two had made up by Saturday morning and Latraverse left for work - he's employed as a milk deliveryman - feeling as if they'd put the issue behind them. Later in the day, however, Latraverse called him at work and they had a conversation in which she threatened to burn down the house.
â€śWe have no idea what she was thinking,â€ť Ryan said in tone of bewilderment.
There were several apartments in the multi-family, but it was solely occupied by Latraverse and her boyfriend â€“ the father of her children. The police did not identify him, but they said he is the owner of the house. Property records say the owner is Neil Romero.
Investigators said the couple had been together 15 years. A police report said a family friend told Breguet they bought the house to make a fresh start after both of them had been unfaithful to each other in the past. Romero bought the house in October 2009, according to the city assessorâ€™s database.
The Red Cross said it helped eight people, five adults and three children from two families, with emergency housing, food and clothing after the fire. Morin said some of the affected residents lived in the neighboring dwelling deemed to be at risk from the possible collapse of 26 Monty Ave.
Latraverse is held at the Adult Correctional Institutions and is due back in court on May 20 for a pre-trial hearing. The charge of first-degree arson carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo