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It was the best meeting-hall deal in town.

For $25 a pop, just about any group could rent the old American Legion building for a night. But that was then - last week - and this is now.The 99-year-old building at 8831 S. 220 East was torched last Thursday by a trio of neighborhood youngsters who perched on the roof for a clandestine smoke and flipped their smoldering butts into the attic.

It went up in smoke, and firefighters say the hall was irreparably damaged.

The structure was one of the oldest in town and in its day served as a Congregationalist church and school, converted during the 1950s into a Legion hall.

"We've taken out all our dishes and coffee cups," Legion activist and Sandy historian Bertha Rand said Monday as she and a crew of volunteers picked through the rubble. "And we rescued the grill."

Old as the structure was, it hadn't even begun to fall into disuse. A July 4 breakfast sponsored by Sandy Post 77 of the Legion attracted 800 people. It served as a part-time dance studio, a sizable chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous met weekly at the hall, and it was a local distribution site for the popular Sub for Santa program, catering during the holidays to poor families.

The Legion's auxiliary had scheduled a get-together next month at the building for 100 members.

"Now we've got to find a way to build a new one," said Rand's husband, Al, a longtime legionnaire, who said fund raising will begin sometime within the next several weeks.

Because it was not an LDS church during its parochial history, it was something of a rarity in Utah, and Sandy's historic commission had pending plans to outfit the building with a plaque noting that fact.

Fire Chief Don Chase said three youths from 11 to 13 years old were arrested and charged with causing the blaze; they will be prosecuted in juvenile court.

Firefighters managed to salvage a number of historic flags, furniture and mementos as the hall burned, but in the end it was a $50,000 loss.

Chase said the building was not insured.


Additional Information

East Harker Complex fire - The two eastern fires in the complex, East Harker and Erickson Knoll near Vernon in south Tooele County, were controlled Wednesday evening. Crews were still working Thursday to control the Reilly fire, burning in a BLM wilderness study area in western Tooele County near the Nevada border. Rain fell on both fire areas Wednesday but the Rilley fire is taking longer to control because crews are using less intrusive tactics because of the land's potential wilderness status. Total acreage burned in the three fires: 12,300 acres.

Edgar fire - The fire in the upper end of Logan Canyon was controlled at 6 p.m. Thursday after burning 3,954 acres. Crews will spend several days cleaning up fire damage. CAUSE: Lightning.

Black Willow Springs fire - Periodic rain since Tuesday has helped firefighters who expect to contain the 12,000-acre fire 12 miles north of Oak City in Millard County by Thursday afternoon. The fire has burned 2,518 acres of BLM land, 440 acres of private land and 9,073 acres of the Fishlake National Forest.