A Craig man was booked into Moffat County Jail early Wednesday morning on suspicion of three counts of second-degree arson.
Craig Police Department Sgt. John Forgay said Cody Custer, 18, is suspected to have started three Dumpster fires beginning at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in Craig.
The first Dumpster fire was started at the east end of Centennial Mall, Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Bill Johnston said.
After that fire was contained, crews discovered another Dumpster fire near the Domino’s Pizza portion of the mall.
A third Dumpster fire was later discovered by police officers at Sunset Elementary School.
Forgay said police were able to locate the suspect by speaking with various witnesses. The department had enough probable cause to arrest Custer, Forgay said.
Custer has not been arraigned and the case has not yet been sent to the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for consideration of formal charges, Forgay said.
Second-degree arson is a Class 4 felony.
According to jail staff, Custer was previously booked into custody Oct. 3 on suspicion of third-degree assault.
According to court records, Custer has been charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, but has not entered a plea.
Forgay said Custer could also face charges stemming from allegedly violating a bond condition and restraining order.
Johnston said the fire department originally received a call that the mall was on fire.
“That got us all a bit serious,” he said.
However, the mall did not sustain any damage from the Dumpster fires and no one was injured in the incidents, Johnston said.
Forgay said he was unsure of the cost of the damages to the Dumpsters.
Johnston said three fire engines and 18 firefighters were sent to the scenes. Crews had controlled the Dumpster fires by 4:30 a.m., he said.
Johnston said there are many facets to the psychology of a suspected arsonist.
“Sometimes, they like to set fires and stand in the shadows and watch the emergency responders arrive and perform,” he said.
Forgay agreed, adding it was difficult to determine why someone starts fires.
“It ranges in everything from the thrill of seeing a fire all the way up to plain stupidity for destruction of people’s property,” he said.
However, Forgay said arson is “totally senseless” and dangerous behavior.
“It certainly could be a danger to people’s lives under certain circumstances,” he said. “Even though you are talking about a Dumpster, you’re putting fire department personnel in danger not only from showing up and having to put it out, but you can never tell what is in a Dumpster.”
Johnston said both departments take arsons and fires seriously.
“If one of my (firefighters) or a police officer were harmed in any way, they can be charged with attempted murder,” he said.