ST. LOUIS – A man appeared in federal court Tuesday after being accused of setting his ex-girlfriend’s home on fire last month in St. Louis County.

Christopher Willis, 39, pleaded not guilty to one felony charge in the case. Investigators say the fire happened at a rental home on April 29 in unincorporated St. Louis County.

An indictment alleges that Willis entered his ex-girlfriend’s home with a key nearly six days after they broke up. He is accused of stealing her cell phone, picking up a pile of clothes and setting the clothes on fire as he got away.

His girlfriend and aunt were sleeping at the time, according to the indictment. No one was hurt from the fire and everyone inside was able to escape because of a fire alarm.

If convicted, Willis could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison or face around $250,000 in fines. He was charged with one count of maliciously damaging or destroying by means of fire.