Colo. Firefighter Arrested for Church Arson

A volunteer firefighter was arrested Wednesday on a charge of setting a fire that destroyed a more than 120-year old community church in rural Colorado.


VIRGINIA DALE, Colo. (AP) -- A volunteer firefighter was arrested Wednesday on a charge of setting a fire that destroyed a more than 120-year old community church in rural Colorado.

Austin Gene Mayo, 19, of Livermore, was arrested on a charge of first-degree arson and was being held on $500,000 bail at the Larimer County jail.

Mayo volunteered for the fire department in Livermore, about 12 miles south of Virginia Dale Presbyterian Church, and for the Larimer County wildland firefighting team.

Mayo did not have a listed phone number.

The north-central Colorado church burned down early Nov. 16. The church was always open and sometimes served as a refuge for travelers on U.S. 287 between Fort Collins and Laramie, Wyo., a highway frequently beset by bad weather.

The church was believed to date to about 1880 and was built near the town's Overland Trail Stage Stop.

Church members plan to rebuild. They have received at least 300 calls offering help, from financial contributions to new pews and an organ.