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UPDATE: Columbia man charged with arson in connection with library fire

Saturday, September 10, 2011 | 6:04 p.m. CDT; updated 6:46 p.m. CDT, Sunday, September 11, 2011
A sign posted outside of Ellis Library at MU Saturday notifying visitors that the library will be closed until further notice because of a fire Saturday morning. The cause of the fire is believed to be arson.

COLUMBIA — A Columbia man turned himself in to MU Police about noon Saturday in connection with a fire at MU's Ellis Library.

The man, Christopher Curtis Kelley, 25, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree arson, second-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree tampering and seven counts of second-degree property damage.

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MU spokesman Christian Basi said no damage estimate was available yet, but he had been in the library and seen moderate water damage to the lobby area that faces Lowry Mall and more damage to the floor below it.

Gary Kremer, director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, said no artwork was damaged or in danger.

"All things considered, it could have been much worse," he said.

Kelley was a student at MU and graduated in 2009. He worked for MU Police as a part-time events assistant at the time of the fire, Captain Brian Weimer of the MU Police said.

The fire started at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, and an automatic fire alarm alerted the Columbia Fire Department.

No one was injured, according to an MU Police news release.

Truckloads of wet carpet, ceiling tiles and cardboard boxes were carried from the library Saturday morning.

Ellis Library was to remain closed Sunday, and Basi said MU would assess when to open the library on "a day-by-day basis."


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