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Fire-hit library to stay closed until staff have checked $2.1M worth of books

St. Cloud Public Library will be closed at least until mid-September as it recovers from a fire caused by one of its patrons.

A 47-year-old man was arrested after he set a book alight in the library on Aug. 17, with the blaze spreading and damaging furniture and a window on the second floor.

Jorge Ozorina has since been charged with first-degree arson, and was ordered to be held in custody after a court appearance on Friday, with bail set at $100,000.

The fire was started in a reading alcove situated on the second floor, which is home to about 106,000 books valued at around $2.1 million, the Great River Regional Library service said in a news release.

Each of these volumes will have to be checked to see if they are smoke damaged, along with around 70 computers also on the floor.

The St. Cloud Times reports that the suspect set fire to a 688-page volume of  “Ancient Civilizations: The Illustrated Guide to Belief, Mythology and Art,” edited by Greg Woolf.

Nobody was hurt in the fire, but it forced the evacuation of 250 people.

The St. Cloud Times says library due dates and holds have been extended till at least Sept. 12.

“Staff are working hard to ensure smooth operations for the remainder of the region,” the library said in the press release. ‘The St Cloud library is working with a skeleton crew so is unable to answer incoming calls. However, patrons may call any other Great River Regional Library location for assistance with renewing items, placing holds etc.

“For St. Cloud Library patrons due dates will be extended for items checked out and placed on hold. All other Great River Regional Libraries will remain open with normal operations.”

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