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Oregon man with history of starting fires arrested in connection with high school arson

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Albany, OR (KPTV) — An Albany man with a history of starting fires is facing arson charges in connection with a fire at South Albany High School, police said Thursday morning.

achary Burghart, 28, is also charged with a fire the same morning that destroyed a trailer at a home just blocks away from the school.

Fire companies from around the Willamette Valley rushed to help put out the fire Wednesday morning.

The fire started around 3:30 a.m. in the cafeteria and burned out of control for several hours, destroying the building.

Because of a lack of resources, firefighters called for help from neighboring agencies. 15 crews were on scene fighting the fire, including crews from Philomath, Lebanon and Corvallis.

Nobody was in the building at the time the fire started.

The school district said there will be no classes at South Albany High School on Wednesday or Thursday because of the fire. Classes had already been canceled Friday for a professional day.

The school’s cafeteria prepares meals for other schools in the district, so parents of elementary school students in the district should plan on sending their children to school with a sack lunch, if possible.

The cafeteria building also housed some classrooms, including band and choir rooms and a child development center. No damage estimates were immediately available.

Anyone who wants to donate to the school can go to www.albanypublicschoolsfoundation.org.

Police said Burghart also set fire to a trailer in the driveway of a home on Del Rio Avenue, just blocks away from the high school.

The trailer caught fire within minutes of the first reports of fire at the school.

The trailer’s owner said a police officer responding to the fire at the high school was circling the neighborhood to check things out and noticed the trailer on fire.

He pounded on the door, waking the family up. Everyone evacuated the house to the back yard and within minutes, a propane tank in the trailer exploded.

The trailer’s owner said she had just cleaned the trailer and was planning to put it up for sale Wednesday.

Burghart has been arrested and charged with arson in the past. In October 2014, he was charged with starting at least four fires in Linn County between Scio and Jefferson.

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