"Did the logs go up?" asked Sheree Paul when police questioned her about an attempt to set her neighbour's fence on fire.
Paul was given a supervision sentence on April 28 for behaving threateningly and assaulting the victim. The next day she tried to set his driftwood fence alight.
Paul went to the victim's fence with a saucepan and some newspaper and began to light the fire, Judge David Cameron said in the Whanganui District Court on Tuesday.
The Seafront Road victim spotted the fire before it could take hold, and came out to investigate and put out the fire.
Paul ran away as he approached, Judge Cameron said.
"It was fortunate that the neighbour discovered what had happened at an early point, before the fence had become engulfed in flames," he said.
Paul initially pretended to have no knowledge of the incident, but when spoken to by police she asked "did the logs go up?" and "Was there much damage?" a police summary of facts said.
She pleaded guilty to attempted arson and breaching a non-association order.
She has a criminal history ranging from 1987 to 2016.
Judge Cameron sentenced Paul to four months in prison, with six months post release conditions.