Police: Arson cause of MCHS fire


At a glance

• Craig Police Department officials have classified a Feb. 23 fire in the Moffat County High School auditorium an arson.

• The conclusion is based on the department's own investigation, assisted by Craig Fire/Rescue and the Moffat County Sheriff's Office, and reports by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and a forensics company hired by Moffat County School District.

• Police Department Sgt. John Forgay could not comment on why law enforcement believe arson was the cause or if there are any suspects.

• The school district's insurance company has agreed to pay for all repairs, though officials do not know how much they will cost.

— Craig Police Department officials believe a Feb. 23 fire at Moffat County High School was the result of arson.

The department's findings are based on its own investigation, originally assisted by Craig Fire/Rescue and the Moffat County Sheriff's Office, and reports filed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and PT&C Forensic Consulting Services

PT&C Forensic was hired by the Moffat County School District's insurance company, Colorado School Districts Self Insurance Pool, which has agreed to pay for all renovations and repairs.

District officials do not know how much that will cost.

Sgt. John Forgay, with the police department, said officers requested the help of a CBI arson investigator because the fire appeared to have a suspicious origin.

He said because the investigation is ongoing, he could not comment on why officials think arson is the likeliest cause or whether there are suspects in the case.

The police department is now the investigative agency in all matters related to the case.

The fire scorched nearly all of the auditorium's inside ceiling and left burn marks on about one-third of the outside roof.

No other part of the high school was damaged, but the auditorium was immediately closed and officials do not expect it to reopen until the beginning of next school year.

The loss has caused issues for community groups that planned to use the space, such as the Craig Concert Association, which had about half its normal crowd at its most recent event, which was relocated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Concert Association spokesperson Julie Dempster said the group didn't know whether people were confused about where the shows were going to be or whether the weather at the time kept people away.

She wants season ticket holders and other residents to know that a fire won't put out the Concert Association.

"We're still moving and shaking, and we're right across the street from the high school," Dempster said.

Officials expect the group's last event, a performance by Synergy Brass Quintet, to take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the church on the corner of Finley Lane and Ninth Street.

Tickets are $20 at the door, or admission is free with the purchase of a season pass for the 2009-10 concert season.

Season passes, which grant admission to five shows plus the free one Saturday, are $35 for adults, $10 for students and $70 for families of any size.


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