A 47-year-old woman on trial for attempted arson was served Saturday with a fresh arrest warrant for allegedly setting fire to a Don Quijote outlet in the city of Saitama in December.

Three employees at the discount retailer’s Urawakagetsu outlet died in the blaze, which broke out at 8:20 p.m. Dec. 13 and gutted the roughly 2,290-sq.-meter building.

The sources said investigators are having difficulty securing sufficient evidence to prove that Noriko Watanabe murdered the three, and for the time being will focus on the arson allegations.

According to the sources, Watanabe has admitted to the allegations, saying she had done a terrible thing and that she had not meant to kill the employees — Morio Oshima, 39, Mai Koishi, 20, and 19-year-old Maiko Sekiguchi.

She was also served a new warrant on suspicion of attempted arson at Don Quijote’s Omiyaowada outlet, located some 7 km from the Urawakagetsu shop, later that same evening. No one was hurt in the second fire, which only burned some merchandise.

According to police investigations, there were a total of six fires at general merchandise stores in the city of Saitama on Dec. 13 and 15. Watanabe has already been indicted in connection with four of them, with police quoting her as allegedly saying that setting fires helped her take her mind off her problems.

Copycat fires were set in other Don Quijote outlets in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward and the cities of Chiba and Osaka, which did not result in any injuries. Critics said the discounter’s method of piling merchandise from floor to ceiling was one reason for the fatal fire in Saitama.

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