Officials are offering a $7,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the May 29 arson fire in the Richfield High School gymnasium.

"We hope this large a reward will be incentive for anyone who has information to step forward and report it," said Sevier County Sheriff John Meacham.Most of the reward money, $5,000, will come from the Sevier School District's insurance. Another $1,000 will be posted directly from district funds, while Richfield and Sevier county have each pledged $500.

Fire damage was estimated at $300,000.

The Sevier School District Board of Education is deciding how to repair the damage, said Superintendent Brent Thorne. He said the gym should be repaired by the beginning of the next school year.

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The fire was discovered about 5 a.m. by the school's janitor, Carl Julander, who arrived early to prepare for commencement. Had he arrived at his regular time, about 7 a.m., the damage could have been much more severe.

Julander said he smelled smoke as soon as he entered the building. Some 22 firefighters responded and quelled the blaze within five minutes, working through heavy smoke, said Richfield Fire Chief Craig Ross.

Most of the fire damage was in three areas on the gym floor and in the bleachers. Smoke damaged the walls and ceiling. It is believed some type of oil was used in setting the blaze.

Graduation exercises were moved to the Richfield LDS stake center, which drew the scorn of the ACLU.

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