Youth formally charged with arson

A 16-year old Monticello High School student was formally charged with arson Wednesday (Feb. 6)  in relation to a Jan. 31 restroom fire at the school district's Washington Elementary School. The incident prompted the temporary evacuation of elementary and high school students from the building, but caused no injuries.

Piatt County State's Attorney Dana Rhoades said the arson charges are a Class 2 felony with a possible penalty of three to seven years in prison.

Monticello police arrested the 16-year-old male on Monday after a weekend investigation. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 22 in Piatt County Circuit Court in Monticello.

“Since it's a juvenile case, the court will appoint an attorney,” said Rhoades.

The fire began in a toilet paper holder in a boys' bathroom, and spread to the ceiling, causing smoke damage and depositing a large amount of soot in the room. Monticello Fire and Rescue volunteers put out the fire with handheld extinguishers. Elementary school students were back in their classrooms an hour after the fire. High school students who use the south wing of the school were using those six classrooms the next day.

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