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Accused in Mayerthorpe trestle bridge fire pleads guilty to arson

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The man charged with setting the fire that destroyed a CN trestle bridge near Mayerthorpe has plead guilty to four counts of arson. 20 year old Michael Schalm was charged with 18 counts in connection with a series of fires in the town.

At one point, firefighters responded to 17 fires in six days. The bridge went up in flames on April 26th, 2016, and was rebuilt within 20 days.

Schalm is the son of former Mayerthorpe mayor Albert Schalm and was a junior firefighter at the time of his arrest. He responded to the trestle fire, along with several others.

Global News reports an agreed statement of facts read in court today explained that the man had started a fire in the dry grass at the base of the trestle, but didn’t intend to light the structure itself on fire. Between lost service and rebuilding, CN Rail reportedly lost more than $7.5 million.

We’ll update with Schalm’s sentence.

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