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A woman living in a home that burned in east Bozeman this week stands accused of setting the house on fire, according to court documents.

Bozeman police arrested Jennifer Larson for arson on Tuesday related to what law enforcement called a “suspicious fire” early that morning at 206 South Mcadow Ave. Damages to the building, owned by the Salvation Army, are estimated at over $1,500, according to court documents.

Larson, an officer with the Salvation Army for five years living at the residence in her capacity with the organization, has been suspended from work, Salvation Army Major Richard Pease said. The penalty for the crime she is accused of is up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $50,000 or both.

“The Salvation Army learned of the situation yesterday and is fully cooperating with authorities but is not at liberty to discuss details,” Pease said. “A Salvation Army officer is on site and providing support to the family members and to ensure that the work of the Salvation Army will continue here in Bozeman.”

Law enforcement found Larson trying to escape a bedroom window of the burning house with a zip tie around her neck on the evening of the fire, according to court documents. Larson told law enforcement at the time that a burglar had entered the home, hit her and put the zip tie around her neck, causing her to lose consciousness.

The house was on fire when she awoke, Larson told investigators.

Further investigation found three ignition points, a gas can and two lighter fluid bottles in the home — causing Bozeman police and fire to suspect arson, according to arresting documents.

Investigators found a lighter, a purse filled with important documents and a cat in a carrier in the room Larson had been found leaving. Law enforcement also found searches in Larson’s phone for “will a broiler explode during a house fire” and “rear naked choke bruising,” searches she said she made while watching true crime shows.

Larson said later in an interview with investigators that her medications had “gotten off” and she could not remember clearly what happened, but that “perhaps the burglar had not been real” and that maintenance stressors in the home “led to her setting the fire and staging the assault but she could not recall specifically,” according to arresting documents.

A prosecuting attorney did not return a call for comment.

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Bret Hauff is the Chronicle’s city editor. He can be reached at bhauff@dailychronicle.com or {span}406-582-2647.{/span}

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