A 21-year-old man arrested for arson at the badly gutted office of the Shoshone News-Press in Kellogg apparently “was just mad at the town,” Kellogg’s fire chief said Thursday.
The newspaper at 401 S. Main St. lost a portion of its archives as well as archives from the former Wallace Press that date back decades.
Douglas Mark Burmeister, of Kellogg, was booked into Shoshone County Jail on Thursday on charges of first-degree arson, driving under the influence, first-degree possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting and obstructing a police officer.
Police Chief Dave Wuolle said that officers were told by a witness that a man watching the fire about a half block away was intoxicated and bleeding from the hand.
The man turned out to be Burmeister, who reportedly drove the short distance in a vehicle, Wuolle said. He allegedly had told other witnesses that he started the fire, the chief said.
Fire Chief Dale Costa said the arsonist broke a window to gain entry to the newspaper in the pre-dawn hours.
The city fire station is across the street, but when the 5:40 a.m. fire call was received, flames were shooting from the roof on the southwest portion of the building, said Costa of Shoshone County Fire District No. 2.
It took firefighters about 45 minutes to knock down the flames, and then they spent the rest of the morning working to dampen hot spots.
Burmeister cut his hand, allegedly in an effort to get in through a broken window, the chief said. His was the only injury reported.
The fire started near the news archives, Costa said.
The chief reported the office “had a lot of newspaper so there was a lot of combustible material.”
“There is heavy fire damage in the southwest portion of the building,” Costa said.
“The rest of the building has heavy smoke and water damage.”
As for the archives, the chief said some will likely survive because they were properly stored.
The Shoshone News-Press is part of the Hagadone Corp.’s chain of newspapers in the region.
The historic name for the newspaper is the Kellogg Evening News, which was owned for years by brothers William and John Penney who had followed in their father’s footsteps.
The paper is 124 years old, according to news files.
The newspaper’s website said the six-day-a-week newspaper was planning to publish today.