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Blanding men face aggravated arson charges in San Juan High fire

Published December 1, 2012 10:57 pm

Courts • Pair also face burglary and theft charges in three separate cases.
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San Juan County prosecutors have charged a pair of Blanding men with aggravated arson and burglary charges in connection with a November fire that destroyed the San Juan High School library and caused an estimated $1 million in total damage.

Christopher Stolzer, 22, and Deven W. White, 19, were charged on Friday with one count each of first-degree felony aggravated arson and third-degree felony burglary in San Juan County's 7th District Court.

Court papers offer no details about the Nov. 17 fire, which the San Juan County Sheriff's Office has said appeared to have been started with kerosene. Sheriff Rick Eldridge had also said the two men — both graduates of the high school — appeared to have been "mad at the school."

A 911 call alerted authorities to the fire, which was concentrated in the library and spread throughout the roof. It took crews from the Blanding and Monticello fire departments two hours to extinguish the blaze, which also damaged six classrooms. No one was injured.

Deputies arrested Stolzer and White about five hours after authorities were called, police said.

Court records do not indicate whether either Stolzer or White has an attorney. An initial court appearance is set for the men on Monday in Monticello before Judge Lyle R. Anderson.

According to police, Stolzer and White were also suspected in a least five other burglaries at the high school and at Albert R. Lyman Middle School over a three-week period prior to the fire.

On Friday, prosecutors also charged both men with a combined 15 other felony and misdemeanor charges in three separate cases. The charges are identical for both men and include second-degree felony attempted arson, third-degree felony burglary and misdemeanor theft and criminal mischief charges.

Those cases are also set for initial court appearances on Monday.

The fire shuttered San Juan High ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday and has forced school officials to relocate some classes for its nearly 400 students.

San Juan School District Superintendent Douglas Wright has said repair efforts at the school will likely take the rest of the school year.


Twitter: @jenniferdobner




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