Convicted arsonist pleads innocent to new charges

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A convicted arsonist arrested for allegedly setting fire to a general aviation hangar at the Juneau Airport pleaded innocent to charges of felony arson, burglary and theft.

Baard Foss, 28, was indicted by a Juneau grand jury on one count of first-degree arson, three counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree theft and one count of third-degree theft.

He is being held on a $100,000 bail in consideration of a felony arson conviction while he was a juvenile and another felony arson conviction in 1993.

''The time Mr. Foss has spent outside of prison in his adult life would number a handful of months,'' District Attorney Rick Svobodny said during Wednesday's hearing in Superior Court. ''Given his previous convictions, I'm asking for a high bail. He poses a grave danger to the community.''

In 1993, Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks sentenced Foss to 21 years in prison with six years suspended and five years of probation for starting three fires in two homes with the intent to harm the people inside, according to court documents.

Foss was released in October 2001.

Current charges lodged against Foss stem from a March 7 fire that destroyed an office at the Wingnut Aviation Hangar in the Juneau Airport. The fire caused $20,000 in damage to the hangar, totaled the office and could have spread to airplanes and fuel located in the hangar, said fire officials.

Sgt. John Boltjes said Foss started working at the hangar after his release from a halfway house in January. Foss had not worked for two weeks prior to the fire, Boltjes said, but was at the hangar March 6 to get money allegedly owed him by his employer.

Around 1:24 a.m. March 7 the fire started. Boltjes said fire investigators believe it was started with an ''accelerant,'' which in this case was a solvent used in airplane repair.

Boltjes said the burglary and theft charges stem from Foss allegedly breaking into the hangar to start the fire and allegedly removing items, including a gun, belonging to the owner.

Foss said he was at home at the time of the crime.

If convicted, Foss faces up to 20 years for each of the arson charges, a maximum 10 years for each of the burglary and felony theft charges, and one year for the misdemeanor theft charges.

Foss' trial is scheduled for May 6.

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