Woman Tries to Light a Church on Fire in Seely Lake
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On October 4, 2023, at approximately 8:45 p.m., a Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Deputy responded to The Chicken Coop located in Seely Lake for a report of possible vandalism. Dispatch advised a flannel shirt and wood had been lit on fire next to a dumpster to the rear of the bar and grill. When the deputy arrived, he contacted the complainant and witnesses.
The complainant told the deputy that she was bartending when a patron came inside and said there was a fire by the dumpster out back. The patron put the fire out with a fire extinguisher. The deputy observed the location of the fire and observed three split pieces of firewood with minor burn marks on them and a burned-up fleece flannel.
The complainant told the deputy that no one saw who started the fire. It should be noted that the fire that was lit was approximately ten feet away from the stationary propane tank that fuels The Chicken Coop. The complainant told the deputy that the firewood was stacked on top of the flannel like it was intentionally lit to light the dumpster on fire.
The deputy asked the complainant if any patrons were upset with the bar service or had any disputes inside of the bar. She said a woman, later identified as 34-year-old McKayla Dembrowski, had been arguing with a frequent patron at the bar. The complainant said McKayla left and walked north towards Lindey’s Steakhouse across the road.
Suspect Walks Past the Deputy
As the deputy was speaking with the complainant and the patron who put the fire out, McKayla walked by. McKayla asked what they were doing, and the deputy stated, “Dealing with a dumpster fire”. She stated, “I apologize” and then told him she was parked by the Mill. The deputy spoke to McKayla near her tractor.
McKayla said one thing led to another and she felt like the patrons in The Chicken Coop had been rude to her and did not want her there. McKayla told the deputy she then became upset and left. McKayla said she began walking down the path north along Hwy 83 and saw the lights were on at “The big church with the big parking lot (Mission Bible Fellowship)”.
McKayla said she went inside and found people practicing their faith. McKayla told the deputy that she asked if she could just sit inside the church. McKayla told the deputy that she told the lady there that she was a lesbian married to a woman. McKayla said the lady at the church was welcoming, but dismissive of her, which made her even more upset.
She Tries to Light the Church on Fire
McKayla said she walked to the gas station past the church. McKayla told the deputy that she asked the clerk how to start a fire because everything was so wet outside. McKayla told the deputy that she bought a bag of dry wood pieces, a box of matches, and a fire starter accelerant for starting campfires.
McKayla told him she walked over to the church and began trying to light the building on fire. McKayla said she knew there were people inside of the church when she was trying to light it on fire. McKayla told the deputy she was so upset by what had happened with the people of Seeley Lake that she needed to do something to show them she was unhappy.
McKayla told the deputy that she could not get the church to light on fire, so she walked back over to The Chicken Coop. McKayla said she walked over to the wood storage area behind the building, grabbed three pieces of firewood, took her flannel off, and attempted to light the dumpster on fire.
While on the way to jail, McKayla showed the deputy how to get to the church and told him where to find the fire she attempted to start. The deputy observed the fire she attempted to start was approximately thirty feet from another large propane tank. The fire was also within two feet of the church’s walls.
McKayla is currently being charged with felony arson.
The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.
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