By Max Fontaine | Hard-wired blaze reporter
Cottage Cheese Emporium was destroyed by fire late Tuesday.
The Emporium, as it was called by local curd-connoisseurs prior to its destruction this week, burned beyond recognition following a several-hour ordeal.
Almost all cheese within the facility was lost. Nobody was injured. All employees had gone home for the day when it happened.
Firefighters from Bass Lake Fire and Emergency Institute battled the blaze eloquently and bravely for several hours, then admitted defeat.
“Sometimes, nothing can be done, despite heroic efforts to do so,” the institute’s chief said in a text from southern Canada, where he is vacationing. “That town helicopter would’ve come in handy right about now.”
Authorities have charged David Arson, 33, in the incident, for allegations of deliberate fire-initiation, first-degree, a 130,000-hour felony.
Arson is currently jailed at the jail, with a several-thousand dollar(s) bond.
Bass Lake mayor-by-default Delores Denominator expressed her sorrow when contacted by the Beacon, although she admitted she “doesn’t care much for cottage cheese anyway.”
“This is not good for our community,” she said. “I’d rather have something else bad happen that’s at least not as bad as this. That old building imploding might be worse. But I don’t want to split hairs or nitpick. Nit-picking is best left to the hair-splitters. I will tell you this: This has been a bad year, from my point of view. I would gladly resign from office, if it weren’t for the upcoming election.”
Jason Twine, defense attorney for Arson, said the allegations are unfounded — even if they’re probably true.
“Unfounded, or, at minimum, unsubstantiated,” Twine said. “I refuse to fuel the fire beyond that.”
Local district prosecuting attorney Ken Lawbar said prior evidence suggests pre-meditation.
Lawbar pointed to a recent post on Arson’s blog, titled, “I’m going to set fire to a local business in mid-September 2014, and that business is called ‘Cottage Cheese Emporium.'”
Twine dismissed the example as “purely happenstantial.”
Lawbar also claims Arson showed “a tendency to commit a fire-related crime somewhere down the line.” Arson was voted “most likely to be arrested for an inflammatory incident” by his high school classmates in 1999. Twine called it “pure jibberish” or “gibberish,” depending on dictionary references.
“There is no evidence of that being something that ever happened,” Twine said, as he ripped out the yearbook page.
Local judge Judge Judy Judge is expected to preside over the case, if it makes it past early stages of the court process.
“I think it will (go the distance),” Judge said. “But that’s only a second-guess, twice removed.”
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