A Logan woman called for a taxi early Thursday and told the cabbie that her boyfriend's car had run out of fuel and that she needed to buy gasoline, police said.
After a run to a gas station, the driver returned her to the 2100 block of Furley Street in East Germantown, police said.
The woman told the hack to wait, though how close to the house is unclear. Then she walked up to the rowhouse's porch, poured out the fuel, and lit a match, police said.
Her ex-boyfriend was sleeping on the first floor. The stench of fumes and smoke woke him. Ouris Alston rushed up the stairs and ordered his family - including his two young children - out of their beds, police said.
Firefighters arrived at 3:40 a.m. to discover the house in flames. They plucked the family from a second-floor window. No occupants were seriously injured, a Fire Department spokesman said.
But the woman had burned herself setting the blaze, and ordered the cabdriver to take her to a hospital, police said.
The fire forced neighbors to evacuate their homes. The American Red Cross said it was providing help to 24 people, including four children.
Later in the day. Monique Riley, 32, was charged with arson, aggravated assault, and related counts. Police said they did not know why the blaze had been set.