Student may have set fire at Calif. college that killed him

July 10, 2013 at 12:24 AM
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MISSION VIEJO, Calif., July 10 (UPI) -- A student who died in a fire at Saddleback College in California may have set the blaze, fire officials said Tuesday.

The 21-year-old man died Monday night at a Santa Ana burn center, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was found with burns covering his body after a fire was reported in an auditorium at 6:30 a.m.

Investigators later determined the fire was deliberately set. Jon Muir, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority, answered "My suspicion is yes" when he was asked if the student was the arsonist.

Jennie McCue, a spokeswoman for Saddleback, said the student was in a social psychology class scheduled for the auditorium about 30 minutes after the fire. She said he had been attending Saddleback, a community college in Mission Viejo, for two years and had a 3.23 grade point average.

Muir said that if the student set the fire investigators will also have to determine whether he was trying to kill himself or if the blaze got out of hand.

"That's the million-dollar question," Muir said. "If this guy is in fact the person who started the fire, we're waiting to hear based on his family life if he had any problems."

McCue estimated the damage from the fire at $400,000.

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