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Downey : Arson Found in Library Fire

September 15, 1988

A fire official says arson was the cause of a weekend fire that gutted the library at Pius X High School in Downey, causing $1.5 million in damage and the loss of 10,000 books.

Pages from books or papers from files were probably used to start the fire that raged for a little more than an hour in the second-floor library at the Catholic school, Downey fire Inspector Dennis Lockard said this week.

No suspects were in custody, said Lockard, who added that investigators do not think students were involved.

The fire forced the school to close for two days, school spokesman Mike Murphy said. Classes resumed Wednesday.

More than 70 firefighters from Downey, Montebello, Santa Fe Springs, Lynwood, Compton, Vernon and Los Angeles County controlled the blaze an hour after it began at about 5 a.m. last Saturday, Lockard said.

A private contractor was called in to clean up substantial amounts of charred asbestos in the remains. The lung-damaging mineral was used as wall insulation in the library building.

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