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A house fire at 1448 S. Third St. in Bismarck in November has been determined to be the result of arson.

A homeowner whose house burned in a fire her fiance is accused of setting now faces her own criminal allegations in the case.

Yvette Howell, 49, was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor tampering with physical evidence. Her fiance, 36-year-old Spencer Norton, faces felony arson. 

Court documents report that Howell told Norton she did a factory reset of her phone after the Nov. 7 fire that claimed her 1448 S. Third St. home in Bismarck.

Howell reportedly later told Bismarck Police she reset her phone because she didn't want her pictures to be seen. Police had seized the phone as evidence after the fire.

Her phone allegedly contained times of phone calls before the fire as well as text messages.

Howell refused comment for this story.

She co-owned the home with her ex-partner. The home entered foreclosure late last month.

Norton is accused of intentionally setting the fire in the home's garage around 4:30 a.m. Nov. 7 right before he and Howell reportedly entered a taxi and left for a hospital.

Howell's cat died in the fire while her three dogs survived. Norton's next court date is Dec. 11.

Howell also faces a small claims suit from Nov. 2, which alleges she lapsed on lease payments for two TVs and a couch since September.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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Crime and Courts Reporter