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Columbia Missourian

Ellis Library to reopen Tuesday after Saturday morning fire

By Jared Grafman
September 11, 2011 | 5:22 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Ellis Library will remain closed Monday as crews continue to clean up the damage caused by a fire started on the main floor early Saturday morning.

Christopher C. Kelley, 25, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of second-degree arson, second-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree tampering and seven counts of second-degree property damage in connection with the Ellis Library fire, according to a previous Missourian report.


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MU police Captain Brian Weimer said Kelley was employed with the MU Police Department before Saturday's events. Weimer was not able to comment further on details of Kelley's arrest, other than that he turned himself in to MU police and was taken to Boone County Jail after the arrest was made.

Kelley's bond for the charges against him total $13,500, and the Boone County Sheriff's Department's website records indicate that bond has been posted.

The early morning fire Saturday in MU's Ellis Library was contained to the main floor, said Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp. Most of the fire's damage was limited to the library's circulation windows facing Lowry Mall because of the automatic sprinkler system.

"I can't even calculate the damage that would have been done without the sprinkler system," Sapp said. He also said video footage from the library's security cameras played a significant role in the investigation.

Because of the ongoing investigation, Sapp was unable to confirm how the fire began or whether an accelerant was used. Investigators are still looking into the extent of the damage.

According to previous Missourian reporting, an automatic fire alarm alerted the Columbia Fire Department and firefighters were dispatched to Ellis Library at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

An investigation by MU police also revealed damage to computer screens, Weimer said. Police found fecal matter on a table in the fourth floor of the library during their investigation, Weimer said.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said in an email that approximately three dozen books were damaged due to the location of the fires. Most of the books were in the inter-library loan, reserve and circulation areas, and none of the books in the general stacks, offices or carrels were harmed.

A damage estimate will hopefully be available by Tuesday, Basi said.

Crews have made significant progress in cleaning the damage from the fire and water, Basi said. The library will reopen at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.