A Fort Lewis College associate professor was arrested on suspicion of arson for setting tortilla chips on fire Saturday at south City Market, forcing the grocery store to close.
Cmdr. Ray Shupe said Bradley Todd Clark, 47, was arrested around 10:45 p.m. Sunday in connection with first-degree arson, a Class 3 felony.
Around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, authorities received a report of a fire at City Market, located at 6 Town Plaza, which originated in aisle 7. Fire investigators determined a bag of tortilla chips was set on fire, which caused the sprinklers to go off.
City Market remained closed until around 2 p.m. Sunday.
Shupe said video surveillance was obtained that showed a male suspect starting the fire. The man then went to the self-check-out machine to purchase items, using a debit card and a City Market value card that authorities said belonged to Clark.
A search warrant was issued for Clark’s home Sunday, and he was taken into custody.
Clark did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.
Lauren Savage, spokeswoman for FLC, said Clark has been placed on administrative leave “due to the serious nature of his arrest.”
Clark joined FLC in 2006, Savage said. He teaches in the political science department.
Shupe said Clark was arrested a few years ago for arson after he set a dumpster on fire.
City Market had not given authorities a total for damages as of Monday afternoon. Store managers previously told The Durango Herald the fire was contained to the dry goods aisle, and store employees worked with health inspectors to identify all the food that is safe to sell.
“The fire itself wasn’t really big from what I understand,” Shupe said. “But it set sprinklers off, which created more damage.”
The fire was doused by water from a sprinkler head, and no one was injured, authorities previously said.