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Two men arrested after fire damages San Juan High School

Published November 17, 2012 10:27 pm

Crime • Sheriff says the suspects "were mad at the school."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The San Juan County sheriff says two men ignited a fire that destroyed the library at San Juan High School in Blanding and caused about $1 million in damage.

About five hours after the 911 call reporting the fire, Blanding police arrested Deven W. White, 19, and Christopher Stolzer, 22, both of that town, on suspicion of intentionally setting the fire. A press release from the sheriff's office said the arrest was based on physical evidence at the scene and information from outside sources.

"They started it with an accelerant of what appears to be kerosene," said San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldridge. "They were mad at the school."

Classes will not be in session at the school on Monday or Tuesday because of the fire. The school was already scheduled to be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday for the remainder of the week. About 400 students attend the school.

Crews went to the school about 4 a.m. after receiving a 911 call about a large fire. They found the fire in the library, and it spread throughout the roof of the school.

It took two hours for crews from the Blanding and Monticello fire departments to extinguish the flames. The roof was also damaged, and several surrounding classrooms suffered smoke and water damage. No one was hurt.

The police also suspect the pair of burglarizing the high school and Albert R. Lyman Middle School five times in the past three weeks. Windows were broken and offices were trashed, among other activity.

The two men were booked into San Juan County jail under suspicion of second-degree felony arson and five counts of third-degree felony burglary.

White and Stolzer are former students of the high school, Eldridge said. A search of Utah court records shows no criminal history for either man.

As far as investigators can tell, their actions weren't against any one person at the school — White and Stolzer were "just mad" at the school in general, Eldridge said.

mmcfall@sltrib.com