By Associated Press • 

Arrest made following South Albany High School fire

UPDATED at 11:26 a.m. Thursday

ALBANY - A 28-year-old man described as a Navy veteran suffering from mental health problems has been accused of burning down the cafeteria at South Albany High School.

The fire early Wednesday left the school closed until next week, destroyed its band and music equipment, and left officials scrambling to replace the 4,000 lunches the cafeteria supplied daily to other schools.

The suspect, Zachary Lee Burghart, pleaded guilty last fall to charges related to arson fires in the nearby community Scio, court records show. He was sentenced to probation and time already served in jail.

He was arrested Wednesday night on arson and other charges, Albany police said.

He is also accused of torching a travel trailer a few blocks from the school about the same time the school fire broke out early Wednesday, police said. The trailer's propane tanks exploded in the fire.

South Albany, one of the two high schools in the city, has a campus with 11 separate buildings. The fire was confined to the cafeteria building, which also housed band and choir rooms.

Nobody was in the building when the fire broke out about 3:30 a.m. The roof collapsed two hours later.

Officers who went to the fire saw a car registered to Burghart leaving the area, said Albany police Capt. Eric Carter.

Officers picked him up later Wednesday as he walked along a street near his home in Albany, Carter said.

Burghart has also been accused of ramming his car into gates at the high school as well as hitting a camper parked on a nearby street, Carter said.

In October, a series of fires on a farm at Scio, 15 miles northeast of Albany, destroyed a car, a pickup truck, a barn and about $15,000 worth of hay, the Albany Democrat-Herald ( ) reported at the time.

Burghart was staying with family members on the farm and told detectives he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

At trial, his lawyer, James Huffman, said Burghart had been declared disabled while in the Navy, and the fires occurred when he was off his medications at a time when he was trying to have his treatment transferred from Salem to Portland.

Because he had no criminal history, the plea deal included probation, said the prosecutor, Michael Wynhausen.

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