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14-year-old arrested for arson

Price fire fighters wearing self-contrained breathing apparatus prepare to enter the smoking building.

Sun Advocate associate editor

A 14-year-old boy has been arrested on a charge of starting a fire in in the custodian's office of Mont Harmon Junior High School Wednesday morning. The fire filled the building with acrid smoke and forced the evacuation of students and teachers.

Units from the Price fire department responded shortly before 9 a.m. They were later joined by backup fire fighters from Helper.

Price Fire Chief Paul Bedont said melted and flaming plastic from the fire spread to the boiler room below the office.

"I came back to my office and saw the flames coming up, so I set off the alarm," said school custodian Cindy Basso.

"We thought at first that it was just a fire drill, but then we smelled the smoke and thought, whoa, this is for real," commented one student.

Fire fighters donned self-contained breathing apparatus to enter the building. Basso's office had cleaning chemicals inside.

The flames were put down quickly, but fire fighters had to inspect the building to make sure the fire had not spread through the ceiling.

Bedont credited the quick response of his team in preventing the fire from spreading. Evacuees from the school congregated in their assigned places outside the school, then walked over to the nearby school district offices where parents could pick them up.

School was dismissed for the rest of the day but was expected to be in session Thursday.

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